In a big step towards the reopening of live theater, Actors Equity announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with Broadway producers on COVID-19 safety protocols for touring productions, including a mandate that all cast and crew must be fully vaccinated.
The agreement also requires cast and crew to undergo weekly COVID-19 tests and bans interaction between performers and audience members. Other rules are similar to the ones implemented by Hollywood guilds for film and television productions, including requiring masks and social distancing, except when job responsibilities do not allow for it, face shields and regular glove changes for hair and makeup artists, and the appointment of a compliance officer to make sure that all protocols are upheld.
The agreement only covers touring companies and not shows on Broadway itself, which are still under negotiation. Actors Equity will also work with the Broadway League to determine "appropriate Health & Safety protocols" in states where vaccine mandates are not allowed by law.
"After months of working together in the midst of an ever-changing landscape, it was great to finalize the protocols with Actors Equity that will help bring Touring Broadway back and keep our employees safe," read a statement from the Broadway League sent to TheWrap.
The new rules come as national tours for major Broadway musicals have announced plans to resume performances, including "Hamilton" at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles this August. Broadway tours of "My Fair Lady" and "Moulin Rouge" are also set to arrive in L.A. later this year.
Meanwhile, Hollywood guilds are preparing to once again review COVID-19 safety protocols to determine if any can be loosened as California prepares to lift nearly all COVID-19 safety requirements and capacity limits on Tuesday. The guilds will also consider whether to require vaccinations for all production crew members for film and TV shoots as it continues to monitor potential variant cases of the virus in parts of the world where infection rates remain high.