Actors’ Equity has temporarily paused its consideration of safety plans for live theater productions in California as the state battles unprecedented infection rates of Covid-19. The union, which represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers nationwide, noted that there are currently no Equity-approved theatrical productions running in California.
Since the pandemic hit in the spring, Equity and live theaters across the country have been working with Dr. David Michaels, former head of OSHA and a professor at the George Washington School of Public Health, on individualized safety plans for the production of live theater during the pandemic. Those plans are now on hold in California.
“For now, with Covid-19 surging, we have paused approvals in California to protect the safety and health of the community and our members,” said Equity executive director Mary McColl. “With hospitals full to capacity, we cannot approve safety protocols for work at this point in time. We will be monitoring the situation on the ground in California on a regular basis to see when we can resume approving safety plans. Our hearts go out to the frontline health care workers of California as they work to bring the pandemic under control.”
Despite the pause in approving safety plans in the state, Equity said that virtual Zoom-style performances from home where those involved do not have contact with each other are still eligible for consideration. Equity’s safety guidelines for theaters seeking to resume production during the pandemic stipulate that infection numbers must be under control in a given area in order to proceed to mount live shows.