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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Indoor live theater, music venue, and movie theater guidance

The following is intended as a plain-language summary of rules during the COVID-19 emergency and does not replace the need to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.


Protections Needed

Masks

  • Audience members and non-performers must wear masks at all times.
  • Performers should wear face coverings when feasible. When not feasible, maintain at least 20 feet between performers and audience or use a barrier between performers and audience.
  • Require backstage crew members and attendees to mask while on site.
  • Any crew members who cannot remain consistently at least 6 feet from others should use a face shield in addition to a face mask (e.g., stagehands, board operators, makeup, and wardrobe).
  • No food or drink may be served or consumed onsite.

Barriers

  • If the performance includes the sale of tickets, install plastic barriers between staff and the public at ticket sales areas; encourage online ticket sales.
  • Place barriers around stage to keep audience members from coming within 20 feet of the stage or performance site.
  • Install plastic or plexiglass barriers at information and check-out desks to physically separate staff and visitors.

Isolate

  • Screen every staff member and/or performer for symptoms before every rehearsal, performance or shift and prevent them from remaining on site if they have cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell. Screen all staff and performers for recent exposure to COVID-19.
  • It is not necessary to conduct onsite temperature measurement for staff, performers, or attendees. If you measure temperatures, use a no-touch thermometer, and do not allow anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher to remain on-site.
  • Have sick leave policies in place so that employees excluded from the workplace do not lose earnings and ticket exchange policies (for ticketed events) to allow patrons who are symptomatic or have been exposed to exchange their tickets.
  • If an employee develops COVID-19 infection or has a positive test, businesses and other organizations must take additional precautions to stop the virus from spreading further. Required precautions include calling the Health Department at (215) 685-5488 to report positive cases.

Distance

  • Adjust work assignments to ensure employees can stay at least 6 feet from each other throughout their shifts.
  • Keep performers at least 6 feet apart, particularly if not masked.
  • Avoid use of shared dressing rooms.
  • Use floor decals or other visual cues to encourage attendees to remain at least 6 feet apart.
  • Block off rows and seats to require 6-foot distance between persons other than family household groups.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each household group and individual in the audience.
  • Require all attendees to remain seated throughout the performance.
  • Do not have performers sing or play wind or brass instruments unless they are at least 20 feet from audience members and there are impermeable barriers between them and any other performers (e.g. a pit orchestra that uses wind/brass instruments would need barriers between musicians).
  • Establish procedures to prevent crowding among persons waiting for tickets or to enter the performance venue.
    • Consider the use of sidewalk decals, chalked or painted circles, or other visual cues to encourage customers to stay at least 6 feet apart while waiting to enter.
  • Use non-contact payment methods if possible.

Reduce crowds

  • In an individual theater, limit attendees and staff to no more than 10% maximum occupancy, even with masks and maintaining safe distancing, up to 250 people.
  • For other public and non-public space within a theater complex or cineplex, limit attendees and staff to 10% of maximum occupancy. If maximum occupancy is unknown allow 10 persons per 1000 square feet of the facility.
    • Post this temporary occupancy limit publicly.
  • For cineplex theaters: stagger movie start times to avoid excess crowding in lobby and hallways.
  • For live theater: select performance pieces that require a small group of performers (<10) and cohort performance groups to minimize the total numbers of work-exposures experienced by staff and ensemble.

Handwashing

  • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizer at entry, lobby, break rooms, green rooms and outside communal bathrooms for all staff and patrons with prominent signage promoting use.
  • Give staff hourly handwashing breaks.

Clean

  • Wipe down high-touch surfaces with disinfectant at least every 4 hours, including railings and seat armrests between performances. See CDC guidance for details.
  • Wipe microphones with disinfectant between users.

Ventilation

  • If possible, increase ventilation in the building by either:
    • Opening windows and/or doors on opposite sides of the building and using fans to blow outside air through the building OR
    • Optimizing ventilation provided by the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by:
      • Having the HVAC system checked to assure that it is working properly. If it can be adjusted, the system should be set to provide at least 6 air exchanges per hour.
      • Maximizing the amount of outside air circulated by the system.
      • Installing filters with minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV) of 13, or the highest compatible with the filter rack. It is not necessary to use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or ultraviolet light irradiation systems.
      • Checking that the external air inlet duct is not blocked and that it is at least 15 feet from people.

Communicate

  • Educate staff about strategies to prevent spread of COVID-19.
  • Encourage customers to download and turn on the PDPH exposure notification app to help with contact tracing.
  • Remind staff who are sick or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the past 10 days to stay home and follow CDC quarantine guidelines. Staff without any symptoms may end their quarantine period after:
    • Day 10 without testing, OR
    • Day 7 after receiving a negative test result (lab-based or rapid) after day 5.
  • Post prominent signs at entrances:
    • Mandating that all staff and visitors wear masks.
    • Mandating physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
    • Encouraging people to cover coughs or sneezes.

See also:


  • Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
  • Call (800) 722-7112 to speak to a health care professional on the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline.

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