Actors’ Equity has released guidelines for COVID-19 testing as theaters plan reopening strategies.
Under the guidelines, actors, stage managers and any other staff members who will interact with the cast and crew should be tested for the coronavirus at least once a week. The test itself should be made free of charge to cast and crew and results should be made available within 48 hours.
Drawing on examples from other theaters and producers, Equity highlighted five COVID-19 tests that meet its criteria and have been proven to show few false negatives, as well as few false positives.
The protocol for testing remains subject to change as the prevalence of the virus evolves.
Any theater or producer wishing to reopen with Equity members will first have to submit a health and safety plan for approval by the union.
The union recently approved productions at Barrington Stage Company and Berkshire Theatre Group. The two theaters, both located in Massachusetts, were the first to have productions approved since theaters shut down in March.
“Every production is different and will be evaluated on a case by case basis focusing on the safety of our members,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity, said in a press release. “We will continue to collaborate on safety plans where the epidemic is under control and where employers can maintain a safe work environment for their employees.”