While Broadway theaters remain shut down in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) released a set of guidelines on July 21 detailing a potential COVID-19 safety program for workers in theaters and other live performance venues.
A few things to note before diving into the 27-page document: to create these guidlines, IATSE’s stagecraft department collaborated with local union officers from stage, wardrobe, treasurers and ticket sellers, front-of-house staff, makeup artists and hairstylists and designers in both the United States and Canada. In addition, the document has been reviewed by medical experts in occupational health and safety. IATSE noted that the guidlines are intended to only provide general information—not as a comprehensive or exhaustive treatment, legal advice or a legal opinion.
The first order of business would need to be creating formal COVID-19 policies by venue that comply with both federal and state health and safety guidelines. Secondly, at least one autonomous COVID-19 compliance officer with specialized training must then be hired to implement the safety plan and address any issues on-site.
There will need to be frequent testing conducted for the cast, crew and any other employees who come into contact with audiences. In addition, the document states that all workers should be asked daily to self-certify that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. The guidelines also provide criteria for employees to return to work after either contracting or being exposed to the coronavirus. “Handshaking, hugging and other physical contact with people who are not immediate family should be avoided,” the document states.
The guidelines also outline the importance of adequate ventilation, the wearing of masks and other protective equipment on the premises when possible, hand hygiene, disinfection and maintenance, what to consider in having food and beverage services on-site, implementing COVID-19 education and safety plan training for all employees and more. To read the document in its entirety, head here.
IATSE is an international union representing over 150,000 members employed in the stagecraft, motion picture and television production, and trade show industries throughout the United States, its territories and Canada.