Actors’ Equity eliminates mask-wearing, testing at single venues across the U.S. 

Actors’ Equity is ending its mandate for mask-wearing and testing of company members who are fully vaccinated at certain theaters across the country. The union released the new guidelines this week for productions that play a single venue and have a fully vaccinated company. On Friday, the union separately announced an agreement with the League of Resident Theatres, which sets out a flexible safety plan depending on the vaccination status of the company. These protocols do not apply to Broadway productions, productions negotiating as part of the Off-Broadway League or tours under the purview of the Broadway League

The newly released protocols for single venues include the hiring of a COVID-19 safety officer, increased cleaning of the theater and a ventilation test of the air flow within the theater, as well as in rehearsal studios and employer-provided housing. The protocols cover productions playing from July 1 through Sept. 30. 

On Friday, Equity also announced it had reached a separate agreement on safety protocols with the 75-member League of Resident Theatres, which includes Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, the American Repertory Theater and La Jolla Playhouse, among others. This agreement, which expires in July 2022, calls for theaters to design a safety plan alongside Equity and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as local and state regulations.

That plan will vary depending on whether producers are requiring Equity members to be vaccinated — a decision Equity is leaving to the theaters. If the cast includes any unvaccinated members, the number of protocols increase and may include weekly testing, mask wearing and social distancing measures. Theaters are required to conduct a ventilation inspection and install HEPA filters in closed areas that do not have proper ventilation. These guidelines are less stringent than those put forward by Equity earlier in the pandemic, at a time when vaccination rates were significantly lower. They are also less restrictive than the protocols that are currently in place for touring productions. …  (via Broadway News – Caitlin Huston)

Discussions on safety protocols for Broadway and for other Off-Broadway productions are ongoing.