Think theaters will be opening up anytime soon? Not so fast. If you’re an Equity house, you gotta have a few protocols in place before your curtain comes up, and their implementation is going to cost a lot of money.
While there aren’t very many Equity houses in the North Bay, several do utilize Equity contracts so I thought the community would be interested in the latest Actors’ Equity Guidelines/COVID Saftey Protocols. These protocols are efffective April 1 – June 30, 2021 at which point Equity will revisit and modify them if conditions warrant.
1. “FULLY VACCINATED” – This protocol is for a fully vaccinated company. “Fully vaccinated,” as defined by the CDC, is more than 14 calendar days following receipt of a final dose of an FDA authorized vaccine.
a. For the purposes of this document, “fully vaccinated” further means that Equity members and everyone that comes into contact with them will be fully vaccinated. If anyone is not vaccinated, please contact the Equity Business Representative.
2. GOVERNMENT — All federal, state, county and city reopening requirements must be followed and the employer will immediately report any positive COVID-19 tests to the appropriate authorities.
3. COVID-19 SAFETY OFFICER(s) – There must be no less than one COVID-19 Safety Officer (CSO) for every twenty (20) people in the company and anyone who comes into contact with the actors or stage managers. This person must always be onsite.
a. The CSO(s) shall oversee and ensure compliance with these safety protocols. The CSO(s) must have autonomy and decision-making authority concerning this COVID-19 related safety protocol.
b. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the CSO has the appropriate training and provides certified documentation to Equity.
c. The CSO(s) cannot be a stage manager or actor employed for the production and actors and stage managers may not be assigned any COVID-19 related duties outside of their individual responsibility as an employee.
d. Responsibilities of the CSO(s) include overseeing, monitoring and enforcing protocols for testing, symptom monitoring, cleaning and disinfection, masks and PPE, case reporting, contact tracing and conducting orientations and training.
e. The CSO(s) shall be readily accessible to all actors and stage managers, and that come into contact with the actors and stage managers.
4. COVID-19 TESTING PLANS – An FDA authorized antigen or molecular (PCR) test must be administered no less than once a week. This test is administered to ensure there is no breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
b. Everyone must receive a negative FDA authorized antigen or molecular test 72 hours prior to the start of work. Testing will continue on a weekly basis throughout employment. Test results should be received no later than 48 hours after administration. Equity must be notified of late test results.
c. If physical therapy is required in the contract, physical therapists must be fully vaccinated and receive a negative FDA authorized antigen test prior to working with employees.
d. There will be no cost to the actors and stage managers including no upfront/out of pocket nor payment for reimbursement costs. The tests taken for employment cannot be covered by the Equity-League Benefit Funds.
5. SYMPTOM MONITORING – Anyone in the vaccinated group who becomes ill must report their symptoms to the COVID-19 Safety Officer(s), who will determine next steps.
6. PROTOCOLS FOLLOWING A POSITIVE TEST – Equity must be immediately notified.
a. Anyone who is sick or tests positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to attend work until evaluated and cleared by a licensed health care provider.
b. Any positive COVID-19 antigen test must be followed immediately up with an FDA authorized PCR test for confirmation. The COVID-19 Safety Officer(s) will ensure that anyone with a positive test immediately self-isolates and contacts their licensed health care provider for further instructions. The COVID-19 Safety Officer will stay in contact with anyone that is isolated due to a positive test.
c. If an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19 using the PCR test, the vaccinated group must be retested. Any additional positive antigen tests must then be followed up with an FDA authorized PCR test for confirmation and follow the same self-isolation protocols. The COVID-19 Safety Officer will determine who has been exposed and what additional precautions are necessary. The CDC’s and local government’s public health recommendations for community related exposure will be followed.
d. When an actor or stage manager is in self-isolation, food, groceries, laundry and medications must be delivered and delivery fees must be paid by the employer.
e. If the actor or stage manager shares housing with another, including family members at their home, the producer will arrange alternative housing for the actor or stage manager to self-isolate.
f. If an actor or stage manager does not have health coverage or a health care provider, the producer will arrange access to a health care provider and be responsible for any associated costs.
g. Anyone who may have been exposed will be immediately notified. The producer will maintain confidentiality as required by federal and state law.
h. A licensed health care provider will evaluate the individual before being allowed to return to work.
7. MASKS AND PPE – Everyone in the vaccinated group must wear a mask, except for the actors when rehearsing and/or performing.
a. Masks and PPE will be provided at no cost to the actors and stage managers.
b. In cases where a production employs actors or stage managers who are Deaf or hard of hearing, face masks for all employees shall be the transparent type.
c. More information on masks can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/your-health/effective-masks.html
d. The stage manager and the board and/or spot operators will always wear masks when working in the booth.
e. Stage managers will test their headsets to make sure cues can be heard clearly while wearing a mask.
8. FOOD AND BEVERAGES –There will be no communal food and/or beverages such as a coffee pot, single serve coffee maker or water dispenser. There will be no buffets. All food must be pre-wrapped and in individual bagged meals. Disposable tableware and pre-wrapped cutlery will be used. Only single-use disposable beverage containers will be used.
a. Eating and drinking will only be permitted in designated areas outside all rehearsal and performance spaces to avoid contamination and ensure adherence to social distancing.
b. Hand hygiene dispensers, disposable hand towels, tissues and non-touch trash cans will be readily available in the workplace.
9. CLEANING, DISINFECTION AND SANITIZATION OF THE WORKPLACES AND EMPLOYER-PROVIDED HOUSING – All spaces must adhere to CDC guidelines for cleaning, sanitization, and cleaning products: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/clean-disinfect/index.html
a. Daily cleaning of low and high-touch areas in the theater and rehearsal halls is required. Between performances on two show days, all high touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected.
b. Props, sets, microphones, transmitters, and headsets that actors and stage managers use will be cleaned after each use. Costumes will be disinfected after each use.
10. INDOOR VENTILATION FOR WORKPLACES AND EMPLOYER-PROVIDED HOUSING – Adequate ventilation in the theater, rehearsal halls and employer-provided housing is a must, and ventilation systems must be inspected by a certified professional. Please provide a copy of documentation of that inspection (i.e., ventilation verification, test and balance report).
a. Information on certified professionals and verifying and documenting adequate ventilation can be found at the following links:
11. AUDIENCE AND PUBLIC INTERACTION – Signage has been posted in all spaces and corridors to provide information masking and PPE, and a reminder that visitors are not allowed.
a. No visitors will be allowed backstage.
b. There must be at least six (6) feet between audience members and the stage. There will be absolutely no interaction between the actors and patrons.
c. Autograph signings, Meet-and-Greets and backstage tours are strictly prohibited. Equity members are prohibited from attending presenter-sponsored opening night parties and other gatherings.
d. Approval of press events will be given by the COVID-19 Safety Officer(s) and a CSO must accompany members of the cast to all press events outside of the venue or employer-provided venue.
e. Talkbacks may only happen if the participants remain onstage and audience remains at least six (6) feet away from the stage.
f. In-person presentations (i.e. preshow speakers or talkback moderators) to the audience may only be made by a member of the vaccinated group.
g. The venue may only be shared with other shows and/or organizations under the following circumstances:
i. All organizations are fully vaccinated OR
ii. if the organizations are not in the building at the same time as the vaccinated group, and there is adequate time for air changes and cleaning to take place.
h. Patrons will be required to wear masks. Ushers will be trained in advance on how to enforce proper mask-wearing amongst patrons.
i. Patrons will not be allowed to eat or drink in the theater before or during the performance and intermission.
12. SELF-ISOLATION OBLIGATIONS – Producer shall continue full compensation for actors and stage managers requiring self-isolation. Producer’s obligation to continue compensation and housing shall not be limited by the expiration of an actor or stage manager’s individual employment agreement, provided actor or stage manager remains under self-isolation. Any cancellation of rehearsal or performances related to COVID-19 will not reduce actors or stage managers’ rights to compensation, housing, and other benefits under this contract.
13. TERMINATION – Any closing of the production related to COVID-19 will result in payment to the actor or stage manager of salary and benefits for two weeks. Producer may not terminate actor or stage manager’s contract due to an actor or stage manager’s absence due to COVID- 19.
a. Upon closing of production, if an out-of-town actor or stage manager is unable to travel home by the means specified in the actor or stage manager’s contract due to health impairment or travel restrictions imposed by public authorities, Producer shall continue housing and any contractual per diem until such time as travel is allowed.
14. GENERAL INFORMATION – The Producer will provide the safety protocols in advance of the first day of employment and will review the safety protocols with all employees on the first day of employment.
a. Equity shall have the discretion to determine whether a Producer has failed to adhere to and enforce the Safety Plan. If Equity makes such a determination, Equity may withdraw permission for actors and stage managers to perform. This action shall not be considered a violation of any no strike provision of the agreement. Actors and stage managers shall receive compensation until compliance with the Safety Protocols is reached.
For more information on the Actors’ Equity COVID Safety Protocols, click HERE.