NEW YORK CITY: Actors’ Equity Association and the Broadway League have announced an agreement on safety protocols for “production contract” shows on Broadway as well as sit-down productions across the country. The announcement comes as Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over prepares to begin Broadway performances on Aug. 4, for which it will require proof of audience vaccination, and concerns are rising over the continued spread of the COVID Delta variant.
“This is an important milestone on the path to getting all our members safely back to work,” said Mary McColl, executive director for Actors’ Equity Association, in a statement. “We are grateful to the league for their partnership on these protocols. We all feel this plan is robust, adaptable to changing conditions and in line with the science. Vaccines work, and those who are vaccinated will protect both themselves and those who can’t be at this time.”
Included in the agreement are provisions such as improved HVAC standards; mandated vaccines for the Broadway workforce (with the exception of those who cannot vaccinate due to age or health risks); weekly testing for employees; and an allowance for modifications to the protocols where necessary for individual shows or locations. Throughout the pandemic, AEA has worked with Dr. David Michaels, the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as it worked to prioritize workplace safety.
“The secure return of our casts, crews and employees is our top priority,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, in a statement. “The Broadway League and Equity, faced with ever-changing COVID-related variables, have agreed on health and safety protocols for actors and stage managers returning to Broadway. We will continue to partner with our union colleagues as we work together towards raising all of our curtains again.”
In a separate separate announcement today, the Broadway League has stated that all 41 Broadway theatres will require masks for all audience members, in addition to vaccination proof, for all performances through the end of October. Theatre owners anticipate revisiting these policies in September in anticipation of November performances and beyond.
“As vaccination has proven the most effective way to stay healthy and reduce transmission, I’m pleased that the theatre owners have decided to implement these collective safeguards at all our Broadway houses,” said St. Martin in a statement. “A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theatres makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety.”
Added the Nederlander Organization’s Nick Scandalios in a statement, “With these procedures in place and recognizing the high vaccination rates among NYC audiences, Broadway continues to make safety our priority. As we get ready for Broadway’s big comeback, the entire theatre community is committed to the highest level of public health standards. We’re all eager to welcome our many patrons and fans back to the magic of Broadway.”
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