NEW YORK CITY: Actors’ Equity Association has announced new safety guidance for fully vaccinated workplaces, and will offer a webinar for workers to learn more about COVID vaccines. The webinar, moderated by Equity president Kate Shindle and presented in partnership with the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), will take place on Wednesday, April 7 at 12 p.m. ET. Anyone working in the arts, including non-members, are able to register here and attend.
“The broad availability of COVID vaccines is already impacting the landscape of reopening the American theatre industry,” said Shindle in a statement. “And as we know, the recovery of live performance will reinvigorate local and state economies across the country. That said, we know that our members have reasonable, thoughtful questions about the process and the science. So we are grateful to AVAC for connecting us with world-class experts in the field who can help us understand the development, safety and efficacy of the vaccines, as well as discuss initial vaccination experiences and the work being done to ensure equitable distribution.”
The panel, which is still being formed, will include David Fitter, who serves as the branch chief with the Immunization Systems Branch within the Global Immunization Division at the Center for Global Health, and Peter Marks, a hematologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of biological products like vaccines (not to be confused with this Peter Marks).
Additionally, Equity has released new protocols for fully vaccinated workplaces, which are effective now through June 30, at which time the protocols may be revised based on the science available at that time. The protocols presume that all Equity members and everyone they interact with have been fully vaccinated—with “fully vaccinated” being defined by the CDC as being more than 14 days after the final dose of an authorized vaccine. The vaccinated group should also avoid attending crowded events or gatherings and should wear masks when going out in public.
The full five-page PDF of Equity’s guidelines for vaccinated workplaces is available on their website, with guidance on COVID safety officers, testing plans, protocols for a positive test, personal protective equipment, food and beverages, cleaning and sanitation for workplaces, as well as employer-provided housing, ventilation for workplaces and employer-provided housing, audience/public interaction, self-isolation, and the process for producers requiring vaccinations as a condition of beginning employment.
A few notable guidelines include:
- There must be no fewer than one dedicated COVID Safety Officer for every 20 people in the company, and anyone who comes into contact with the actors or stage managers, and those officers must always be on site.
- Should an actor or stage manager be confirmed positive for COVID and need to self-isolate, then food, groceries, laundry, and medications must be delivered, with delivery fees paid by the employer. Additionally, should that actor/stage manager share housing with another (including family members), the producer will arrange alternative housing for that actor/stage manager to self-isolate. Those who require self-isolation will still receive full compensation.
- Masks and PPE are to be provided at no cost to the actors and stage managers, including transparent PPE for productions with members who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
- No communal food or beverages, including coffee pots, single-serve coffee makers, water dispensers, or buffets.
- Ventilation systems in the theatre, rehearsal halls, and employer-provided housing must be inspected by a certified professional. (Equity has provided resources for finding certified professionals in their guidelines document.)
- Public interaction will be limited, with no visitors allowed backstage, at least six feet between audience members and the stage, and no interaction between actors and patrons. This includes prohibiting autograph signings, meet-and-greets, backstage tours, and “presenter-sponsored opening night parties and other gatherings.”
- Venues may only be shared with other shows and/or organizations if all members of all organizations are fully vaccinated or if members of the organizations are not in the building at the same time as the vaccinated group and there is time for cleaning to take place between the two.
- Patrons are to be required to wear masks, with ushers trained on how to enforce proper mask-wearing by patrons.
For the full list of guidelines for fully vaccinated workplaces, dated April 1 through June 30, visit Equity’s website, under its COVID-19 information for producers.
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