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Equity Lifts COVID-19 Masking and Testing Mandates

Fully vaccinated companies may return to pre-COVID practices, more or less, but audience interaction is still a no-go.

NATIONWIDE: Actors’ Equity Association, the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has updated its safety protocols for theatres across the country with fully vaccinated companies, including the lifting of masking and testing mandates.

“The health and safety of our members comes first,” said Kate Shindle, president of AEA, in a statement. “We are heartened by the declining infection rates nationwide, because so many people have done their part and gotten vaccinated. As such, it will now be a smoother and less expensive process for employers to recall our members to work. We still need to be diligent about the virus, but we are very hopeful for the months ahead.”

The updated protocols, valid through the end of September, still require producers to conduct a “ventilation verification,” to have a trained “COVID safety manager” on site, and to follow sanitization procedures. While the newly strictures require that “all Equity members and everyone that interacts with the actors and stage managers has been fully vaccinated,” the vaccination status of theatre audiences is not addressed. Instead, a section of the “fully vaccinated safety rider” outlines prohibitions on backstage tours, meet-and-greets, autograph signings, etc., and requires a minimum 10-foot distance between audience and performers. Equity has negotiated separate protocols with the Broadway League for national tours, and talks for Broadway’s safety protocols are ongoing.

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ADV – Billboard