Actors’ Equity, the union representing stage performers and stage managers, has shared with its members updated coronavirus health and safety protocols devised in agreement with the Broadway League. The guidelines impact Broadway productions and major sit-down engagements—not national tours, which fall under a separate agreement.
Like the touring agreement, the protocols stipulate that all covered productions are expected to be “Fully Vaccinated” productions, meaning all Equity members and individuals who interact with them who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have done so. Exemptions due to qualifying disability or religious beliefs are at the discretion of the producer.
Testing is mandated on a weekly basis for all company members, beginning with a PCR test prior to rehearsals and then either a PCR or antigen test. (Those who are unvaccinated, under the agreement, are to receive PCR tests at least twice weekly.) The implementation of a “COVID-19 safety manager,” a new position referenced in Equity’s previous agreements, is also required, and meetings are to be held at least once every two weeks to discuss any updates, snags, feedback, etc.
The guidelines note that fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear face masks, except in times when recommended or required by government agencies or the employer. New York City is in such a time as the protocols, dated July 28, is released; in response to the growing spread and reported breakthrough cases of the delta variant, the Center for Disease Control advises that vaccinated individuals in places with substantial or high coronavirus transmission wear masks in public indoor spaces.
Some Broadway shows have already announced that they will require vaccines for company members (Hamilton is one—incidentally, the show just announced its full reopening cast). Pass Over, set to be the first Broadway play to welcome audience members when it begins August 4, began rehearsals earlier this month and is in the process of moving from the studio into the August Wilson Theatre. Vaccine and testing requirements have been in place for employees.
The agreement does not determine vaccine mandates for audience members, though some individual productions—like Springsteen on Broadway and the aforementioned Pass Over—have made their own calls already.