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Actors' Equity Association Releases New Virus Safety Resources for Producers

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Actors' Equity Association Releases New Virus Safety Resources for Producers

Actors' Equity Association has released a public list of resources geared towards producers looking to resume live theatre.

These resources are an example of how Equity is collaborating with producers across the country on safety plans that could bring back some theatre in the coming months assuming the epidemic is brought under control in more states.

These resources currently are:

-A memo from the union's public health consultant, Dr. David Michaels, on the four core principles necessary for safe theatre

-A short summary of these principles

-Guidelines for testing workplaces for COVID-19 based on suggestions from theaters nationwide

-A pre-production COVID-19 safety sheet (XLS)

Equity is updating this page regularly as new information becomes available, and the union encourages producers to explore, share and use these resources.

Earlier this week, two theaters in Massachusetts were the first to cross the finish line, and they will mount productions for live audiences this summer. Massachusetts is one of the few states where the virus is under control, and both theaters have a robust testing program incorporated into their safety plan.

Highlights of Equity's work to date on COVID-19:

-Equity made its first public statement on March 2 that staff were making plans to prepare for a possible pandemic. Equity then asked producers to put members health and safety first and postpone Equity EPAs and ECCs. The union also publicly called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to put worker safety first as the mayor considered whether to limit public gatherings to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

-Equity first made the public case for emergency relief for arts and entertainment workers on March 11, when news reports emerged that Washington state and others would limit public gatherings. Equity mobilized to partner with other arts and entertainment unions to make the case to key members of Congress that arts and entertainment workers must be protected during this health crisis. That work led to the inclusion of arts workers in the CARES Act, meaning Equity members gained improved access to unemployment. Equity President Kate Shindle made the case that Congress must include arts workers in a relief package on MSNBC.

-Equity launched the Curtain Up Fund to provide members with emergency financial relief.

-Staff are working to make sure all members nationwide receive the benefits of their collective bargaining agreements during this critical time. Equity also joined with the Coalition of Broadway Unions (COBUG) on pay and health contributions for members working on Broadway, as well as to seek relief for members in New York State, including assistance with COBRA payments for entertainment workers. Equity is also advocating for a full COBRA subsidy in the HEROES Act.

-Equity-League Benefit Funds waived the quarterly premium for health coverage beginning/continuing on May 1, June 1 and July 1.

-Equity has made a public statement telling employers that it is "unclear how" a theater could safely reopen under the current circumstances and asked members to contact the union if they are asked to go back to work.

-Equity hired Dr. David Michaels, the former head of OSHA during the Obama administration, to serve as health and safety consultant for the union. Dr. Michaels released a memo stipulating the four conditions that must be met before theaters should consider resuming production.

-Equity approved two theaters to perform for live audiences the summer of 2020 with strict public health measures in place.

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