IATSE’s Safety Guidelines for Broadway and Stage Shows Include Paid Sick Leave and No-Touch Tickets

Staggered call times and elimination of backstage tours are also recommended by stage workers’ union

Last Updated: July 22, 2020 @ 11:17 AM

While Broadway theaters will remain shuttered until at least January 2021, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees on Wednesday released a 27-page report outlining COVID-19 safety guidelines for theatrical productions.

The union’s guidelines include requiring a written safety plan from all performance venues and a compliance officer to oversee implementation. IATSE also calls on all venues to guarantee access to personal protective gear and regular coronavirus testing for all employees and performers, as well as paid sick leave for anyone infected. The report also recommends that productions do their best to stagger call times and start times to minimize the number of workers backstage at any given period.

The union recommends new protocols for theatergoers too, from socially-distanced lines to touch-free ticket scanning to barriers in bathrooms and Playbills made available on a rack instead of being handed out by an usher. Backstage areas will also be completely off-limits to visitors, including the stage door area and for backstage tours.

The report, which can be read here, follows meetings with IATSE locals for various theatrical occupations, including front-of-house workers, stage and wardrobe workers, and hair & makeup departments.

Broadway is not expected to open any time soon as theaters there have extended their shutdown through the end of the year. Even beyond that, it is unclear what the timetable for reopening might be as theatrical performances have been listed by medical experts alongside movie theaters and sports events as mass gatherings that have the highest risk of spreading COVID-19.

Earlier this week, New York city and state governments announced the partial implementation of the fourth and final phase of the state’s reopening plan, allowing for outdoor public areas like botanical gardens, outdoor cultural sites and zoos to reopen. But cinemas, theaters, theme parks and indoor dining are still to be closed.