'SNL' Cancels Live Audience, Charli XCX Performance for Paul Rudd-Hosted Episode Due to COVID-19 Omicron Variant

This weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live featuring Paul Rudd will not have a live audience or musical guest and will limit cast members out of caution for the spike in COVID-19 cases

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Paul Rudd, Charli XCX Episode 1814 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guest Charli XCX, host Paul Rudd, and Ego Nwodim during promos in Studio 8H on Thursday, December 16, 2021
Photo: Rosalind OConnor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Saturday Night Live is canceling its live audience and musical guest as New York City sees a spike in COVID-19 cases, specifically the new Omicron variant, PEOPLE confirms.

Just hours ahead of Paul Rudd's 5th episode as host, the NBC sketch comedy show announced that it would no longer have a live audience and that cast and crew members would be limited.

"Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight's taping of Saturday Night Live and the show will have limited cast and crew," SNL announced on Twitter.

"The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol," the statement noted. Individuals who won tickets for Saturday's episode will receive additional information. "Thank you for your patience and understanding," SNL added.

Musical guest Charli XCX will no longer be performing "New Shapes" alongside Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek. She confirmed the news on Saturday on Twitter.

"Hi everyone. Due to the limited crew at tonight's taping of SNL my musical performances will no longer be able to go ahead. I am devastated and heartbroken. Myself, Caroline, Christine and all of our crews and teams have worked so hard all week alongside the SNL team to bring the most amazing musical performance to life," she wrote.

"It can't happen this time but I'll be back!" Charli assured fans. "I am currently safe and healthy but of course very sad. Please look after yourselves out there and make sure you get vaccinated if you haven't already. Lots of love, Charli."

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Rudd, 52 — who was named PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive 2021 — has already hosted SNL four times before in 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2019 (The gig will land Rudd in the Five-Timers club, joining his Shrink Next Door costar Will Ferrell, among others).

SNL has previously taken action in regard to its safety protocols for COVID-19. Last year, the show disinvited Morgan Wallen as a musical guest following a video of the country star partying maskless with a large group of people days before his scheduled appearance.

Ed Sheeran also had a close call with his SNL performance last month after testing positive. However, after spending time in quarantine, the singer was able to hit the stage weeks later.

The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is the most contagious yet, has more mutations than any before it, and seems to evade the previously-effective two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. In people who had received a booster shot, they had enough antibodies to fight off Omicron from creating an infection, according to researchers.

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. EST on NBC.

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