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Safety Standards and Checklist: Theaters and Performance Venues

Reopening Phase III, Step 2 mandatory safety standards, recommended best practices and a checklist for Theaters and Performance Venues. EFFECTIVE: October 5, 2020

Facilities Permitted to Open to the Public by Type and Community Status

 

Status of Municipality

Performance Venue Type

Step 1 of Phase 3

Step 2 of Phase 3

Outdoor Theater and Performance Venues

Open – 25% capacity but no more than 50 people

Open—50% capacity but no more than 250 people

Indoor Movie Theaters

Open –50% capacity but no more than 250 people per individual theater

Open—50% capacity but no more than 250 people per individual theater

Drive-In Movie Theaters

Open

Open

Indoor Theaters and Performance Venues

Closed

Open—50% capacity but no more than 250 people

Large Event and Performance Venues (Phase IV)

Closed

Closed

These allowances are subject to additional limitations as detailed below.

Municipalities that qualify as “Lower Risk communities” as provided in COVID-19 Order No. 51 are advanced to Step 2 of Phase 3.  All other municipalities remain in Step 1 of Phase 3 until public health data meets the “Lower Risk metric” as defined in COVID-19 Order No. 51.

Large capacity event venues in all municipalities must continue to remain closed until Phase IV. This includes venues used for group or spectator sports, entertainment, business, and cultural events including:

  • Stadiums, arenas, and ballparks
  • Exhibition and convention halls

Table of Contents

Key Documents for Reopening

Linked below are three important documents:

  1. Workplace Safety Standards - Complete and official sector-specific standards for reopening Theaters and Performance Venues (all workplaces must also comply with the Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces)
  2. Protocol Summary - User friendly summary of the standards and best practices
  3. Checklist - Printable tool to help businesses perform the required self-certification for opening and ensure compliance with the sector-specific standards 

Social Distancing and Capacity Limits

Require face coverings for all workers and customers, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability

Audience members must wear face coverings while seated during the performance or movie unless unsafe due to disability or medical condition

Audience members may remove face coverings while seated and eating or drinking but must otherwise wear face coverings

Indoor movie theaters must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of each individual theater or screening room’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, and never more than 250 persons in a single enclosed, indoor space

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons in a single enclosed, indoor space

In Phase 3, Step 1 each outdoor venue must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to

25% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 50 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 8 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 50 persons

In Phase 3 Step 2, each outdoor venue must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 250 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons

Indoor Theater and Performance Venues allowed to reopen in Phase 3 Step 2 must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 250 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons

All occupant counts and calculations for indoor and outdoor venues must include all customers, patrons and attendees but may exclude workers and performers.

For rehearsals, virtual performances, and other events without an audience, indoor and outdoor venues must limit occupancy at all times to 50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue allow more than 250 persons

Post clearly visible signage regarding the need to maintain 6 feet of social distancing and not to enter a room until that distancing can be maintained

Venues must put markers outside of the building to ensure 6 feet of distance for customers who are waiting outside to enter

Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals where possible:

Close or reconfigure worker common spaces and high density areas where workers are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms, eating areas, backstage areas) to allow social distancing

Physical partitions must separate workstations that cannot be spaced out (partitions must be at least 6 feet in height)

Install physical barriers for ticket stations where possible, otherwise maintain 6 feet distance where not possible

Install visual social distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart (e.g., lines for equipment if applicable, checkout lines, lines to use the restroom)

Establish directional pathways to manage visitor flow for foot traffic, to minimize contact (e.g., one-way entrance and exit to shows, one-way pathways). Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies

Reconfigure seating areas to ensure 6 feet distancing between customers not in the same group

Distance shall be measured from the closest boundary of one customer recreation or seating area to the closest boundary of another customer recreation or seating area

This may require blocking every other row of seats and staggered seating within rows

Limit group sizes to no more than 10 people per groups attending together for outdoor theaters and performance venues

Limit group sizes to no more than 6 people for groups attending together for indoor theaters and performance venues and movie theaters

Stagger lunch and break times for workers, regulating max number of people in one place and ensuring at least 6 feet of physical distancing

Contactless payment methods and / or digital ticketing are encouraged

Special protocols shall be followed for close contact between live performers:

Performers are to wear face coverings during performances whenever feasible

Performers should remain at least 6 feet apart even if wearing masks. Any activity requiring performers to be closer than 6 feet must be as brief as possible

Activities that require prolonged direct contact (e.g. intimate scenes, fight scenes) are discouraged

Prohibit direct interaction between performers and audience before, during, or after performances (including backstage and post-performance meet and greets)

For live performances, singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments is discouraged. Singing is not permitted in indoor performances. For performances involving singing or brass or wind instruments, special distancing must be followed:

At least 10 feet between performers

At least 25 feet between performers and first row of the audience

Plexiglass barriers cannot be used to reduce required distance between performers or between performers and the audience

For indoor performance venues, intermission should be eliminated unless necessary. Performances that are shorter in duration are encouraged

Encourage the use of electronic versions or no-touch displays in place of commonly touched physical materials (such as menus and playbills) where possible. All commonly touched physical materials must be discarded or sanitized between use

Any self-serve racks or containers for these materials should be removed, and instead all materials must be handed out individually by workers

Recommended Best Practices

Venues are encouraged to offer exclusive hours or other accommodations for those in high-risk populations as defined by the CDC

Contactless payment methods and / or digital ticketing are encouraged

Encourage the use of electronic versions or no-touch displays in place of commonly touched physical materials (such as menus and playbills) where possible

Hygiene Protocols

Disinfect shared equipment before use by another worker

Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, wherever possible and encourage frequent handwashing; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative

Supply workers at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should be made available at entrances, exits and throughout floor areas for workers, performers, and customers

Avoid sharing equipment and supplies between workers including performers

Post visible signage throughout the site to remind customers and workers of hygiene and safety protocols

Prohibit any mutual touching of customer or worker equipment without sanitation between uses

Staffing and Operations

Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:

Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings

Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks

Importance of not coming to work if ill

When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe

Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus

Venues must screen workers at each shift by ensuring the following:

Worker is not experiencing any symptoms such as fever (100.0 and above) or chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle/body aches, runny nose/congestion, new loss of taste or smell, or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Worker has not had “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. “Close contact” means living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, or coming in direct contact with secretions (e.g., sharing utensils, being coughed on) from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19,

Worker has not been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by their doctor or a local public health official

Workers who fail to meet the above criteria must be sent home

Adjust workplace hours and shifts (leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry point

Venues should maintain operating hours that allow for on-going off-hour sanitation and cleaning consistent with CDC guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting

Limit visitors and service providers on site; shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas

Maintain a log of workers and visitors to support potential contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information)

All performers and workers must follow the Commonwealth's current out-of-state travel order: mass.gov/MAtraveler.  In addition, employers are strongly discouraged from requiring or allowing business-related travel to destinations other than those appearing on the Department of Public Health’s list of COVID-19 lower risk States.  Employers that permit employer-paid or -reimbursed travel to those States shall take measures to ensure employees comply with this order. Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to destinations not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk States

Workers shall not appear for work or complete a shift if feeling ill

Workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home

Workers are strongly encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer

Encourage workers who test positive for COVID-19, to disclose to the employer of the office for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing. If the employer is notified of any positive case at the workplace, the employer must immediatelyshall notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located. Employers mustand assist the LBOH as reasonably requested with contact tracing efforts, including to advisinge likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may be recommended consistent with guidance and / or at the request of the LBOH

Post notice to workers and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in the Commonwealth’s Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace

Stagger event times (such as theater showings) to avoid congregation of customers in different groups and to allow for thorough cleaning of the activity space (e.g., seating areas or tables) before new customers arrive

Workers should facilitate organized entrance and exit between events where audiences are arranged in rows or other large groups to prevent unnecessary congregation of customers

Facilities should develop a seating plan for which customers can reserve spots ahead of time and which is adjustable to the size of the booking party allowing couples and small groups to sit together while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from other individuals/groups

Additional on-site amenities and services may only open and operate when those amenities or services would otherwise be authorized to operate under the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening Plan and then must adhere to all sector-specific safety protocols, available on the Reopening Plan website, applicable to the amenity or service. Examples include:

Restaurants/food service: Must follow the latest restaurant guidelines

Gift shops: Must follow the latest retail guidelines

Performer hair and makeup: Must follow the latest close contact business guidance

Dancing and dance areas: Must remain closed until Phase 4.  Only performers are allowed to dance for their performances

Drive-In Performances must follow the Drive-In Theaters Standards including remaining in the vehicles during the performance

Reconfigure lobbies to discourage congregation of customers before, during, or after shows

 

Recommended Best Practices

Limit worker movement to discrete work zones to minimize overlap where possible

Workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home

Workers are strongly encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer

Encourage workers who test positive for COVID-19, to disclose to the employer of the office for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing

Encourage advanced reservations and digital ticketing where possible

Intermissions should be avoided in order to limit time of performance and to prevent congregating and close contact with other

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily and more frequently if feasible)

Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning

Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, bathrooms, seats, ticket counters, staff break rooms)

In event of a positive case, shut down site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current CDC guidance

Disinfect seating areas and any other mutually-touched objects immediately after each use. At no point should customers come in contact with objects that others have touched without first being disinfected according to CDC guidelines

Recommended Best Practices

Open windows and doors to increase air flow where possible

Checklist

SOCIAL DISTANCING & CAPACITY LIMITS

Ensure >6ft  between individuals

Require face coverings for all workers and customers, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability

Audience members must wear face coverings while seated during the performance or movie unless unsafe due to disability or medical condition

Audience members may remove face coverings while seated and eating or drinking but must otherwise wear face coverings

Indoor movie theaters must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of each individual theater or screening room’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, and never more than 250 persons in a single enclosed, indoor space

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow 8 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons in a single enclosed, indoor space

In Phase 3, Step 1 each outdoor venue must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to

25% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 50 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 8 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 50 persons

In Phase 3 Step 2, each outdoor venue must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 250 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons

Indoor Theater and Performance Venues allowed to reopen in Phase 3 Step 2 must monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to:

50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue admit or host more than 250 persons

Venues for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow up to 10 persons per 1,000 square feet of accessible space, and never more than 250 persons

All occupant counts and calculations for indoor and outdoor venues must include all customers, patrons and attendees but may exclude workers and performers.

For rehearsals, virtual performances, and other events without an audience, indoor and outdoor venues must limit occupancy at all times to 50% of the venue’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in the occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder, but in no event shall the venue allow more than 250 persons

Post clearly visible signage regarding the need to maintain 6 feet of social distancing and not to enter a room until that distancing can be maintained

Venues must put markers outside of the building to ensure 6 feet of distance for customers who are waiting outside to enter

Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals where possible:

Close or reconfigure worker common spaces and high density areas where workers are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms, eating areas, backstage areas) to allow social distancing

Physical partitions must separate workstations that cannot be spaced out (partitions must be at least 6 feet in height)

Install physical barriers for ticket stations where possible, otherwise maintain 6 feet distance where not possible

Install visual social distancing markers to encourage customers to remain 6 feet apart (e.g., lines for equipment if applicable, checkout lines, lines to use the restroom)

Establish directional pathways to manage visitor flow for foot traffic, to minimize contact (e.g., one-way entrance and exit to shows, one-way pathways). Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies

Reconfigure seating areas to ensure 6 feet distancing between customers not in the same group

Distance shall be measured from the closest boundary of one customer recreation or seating area to the closest boundary of another customer recreation or seating area

This may require blocking every other row of seats and staggered seating within rows

Limit group sizes to no more than 10 people per groups attending together for outdoor theaters and performance venues

Limit group sizes to no more than 6 people for groups attending together for indoor theaters and performance venues and movie theaters

Stagger lunch and break times for workers, regulating max number of people in one place and ensuring at least 6 feet of physical distancing

Contactless payment methods and / or digital ticketing are encouraged

Special protocols shall be followed for close contact between live performers:

Performers are to wear face coverings during performances whenever feasible

Performers should remain at least 6 feet apart even if wearing masks. Any activity requiring performers to be closer than 6 feet must be as brief as possible

Activities that require prolonged direct contact (e.g. intimate scenes, fight scenes) are discouraged

Prohibit direct interaction between performers and audience before, during, or after performances (including backstage and post-performance meet and greets)

For live performances, singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments is discouraged. Singing is not permitted in indoor performances. For performances involving singing or brass or wind instruments, special distancing must be followed:

At least 10 feet between performers

At least 25 feet between performers and first row of the audience

Plexiglass barriers cannot be used to reduce required distance between performers or between performers and the audience

For indoor performance venues, intermission should be eliminated unless necessary. Performances that are shorter in duration are encouraged

Encourage the use of electronic versions or no-touch displays in place of commonly touched physical materials (such as menus and playbills) where possible. All commonly touched physical materials must be discarded or sanitized between use

Any self-serve racks or containers for these materials should be removed, and instead all materials must be handed out individually by workers

Encourage the use of electronic versions or no-touch displays in place of commonly touched physical materials (such as menus and playbills) where possible. All commonly touched physical materials must be discarded or sanitized between use

Any self-serve racks or containers for these materials should be removed, and instead all materials must be handed out individually by workers

HYGIENE PROTOCOLS

Apply robust hygiene protocols

 

Disinfect shared equipment before use by another worker

Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, wherever possible and encourage frequent handwashing; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative

Supply workers at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should be made available at entrances, exits and throughout floor areas for workers, performers, and customers

Avoid sharing equipment and supplies between workers including performers

Post visible signage throughout the site to remind customers and workers of hygiene and safety protocols

Prohibit any mutual touching of customer or worker equipment without sanitation between uses

STAFFING & OPERATIONS

Include safety procedures in the operations

Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:

Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings

Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks

Importance of not coming to work if ill

When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe

Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus

Venues must screen workers at each shift by ensuring the following:

Worker is not experiencing any symptoms such as fever (100.0 and above) or chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle/body aches, runny nose/congestion, new loss of taste or smell, or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Worker has not had “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. “Close contact” means living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, or coming in direct contact with secretions (e.g., sharing utensils, being coughed on) from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19

Worker has not been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by their doctor or a local public health official

Workers who fail to meet the above criteria must be sent home

Adjust workplace hours and shifts (leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry point

Limit worker movement to discrete work zones to minimize overlap where possible

Venues should maintain operating hours that allow for on-going off-hour sanitation and cleaning consistent with CDC guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting consistent with CDC guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting

Limit visitors and service providers on site; shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas

Maintain a log of workers and visitors to support potential contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information)

Workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home

Workers are strongly encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer

All performers and workers must follow the Commonwealth's current out-of-state travel order: mass.gov/MAtraveler. In addition, employers are strongly discouraged from requiring or allowing business-related travel to destinations other than those appearing on the Department of Public Health’s list of COVID-19 lower risk States. Employers that permit employer-paid or - reimbursed travel to those States shall take measures to ensure employees comply with this order. Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to destinations not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk States

Workers shall not appear for work or complete a shift if feeling ill

Encourage workers who test positive for COVID-19, to disclose to the employer of the office for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing. If the employer is notified of any positive case at the workplace, the employer must immediately notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located. Employers must assist the LBOH with contact tracing efforts, including advising likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may be recommended consistent with guidance and / or at the request of the LBOH

Post notice to workers and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in the Commonwealth’s Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace

 

Stagger event times (such as theater showings) to avoid congregation of customers in different groups and to allow for thorough cleaning of the activity space (e.g., seating areas or tables) before new customers arrive

Encourage advanced reservations and digital ticketing where possible

Workers should facilitate organized entrance and exit between events where audiences are arranged in rows or other large groups to prevent unnecessary congregation of customers

Facilities should develop a seating plan for which customers can reserve spots ahead of time and which is adjustable to the size of the booking party allowing couples and small groups to sit together while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from other individuals/groups

Additional on-site amenities and services may only open and operate when those amenities or services would otherwise be authorized to operate under the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening Plan and then must adhere to all sector-specific safety protocols, available on the Reopening Plan website, applicable to the amenity or service. Examples include:

Restaurants/food service: Must follow the latest restaurant guidelines

Gift shops: Must follow the latest retail guidelines

Performer hair and makeup: Must follow the latest close contact business guidance

Dancing and dance areas: Must remain closed until Phase 4.  Only performers are allowed to dance for their performances

Drive-In Performances must follow the Drive-In Theaters Standards including remaining in the vehicles during the performance

Intermissions should be avoided in order to limit time of performance and to prevent congregating and close contact with others

Reconfigure lobbies to discourage congregation of customers before, during, or after shows

CLEANING & DISINFECTING

Incorporate robust hygiene protocols

Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily and more frequently if feasible)

Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning

Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, bathrooms, seats, ticket counters, staff break rooms)

In event of a positive case, shut down site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current CDC guidance

Open windows and doors to increase air flow where possible

Disinfect seating areas and any other mutually-touched objects immediately after each use. At no point should customers come in contact with objects that others have touched without first being disinfected according to CDC guidelines

Phase III Downloads and Translations

Additional resources below, including easy print versions of the sector-specific circular and checklist.

Phase III, Step 2 (Effective: October 5, 2020)

Phase III, Step 1

Last updated: October 9, 2020
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