Last Updated: 8.17.2022 at 12:00 p.m.
A Note on Equity
As you think through safety for you, your space, co-workers, and audiences while you practice, teach, manage spaces and even perform again, consider that these practices and regulations do not affect everyone equally, and that efforts should also be made to create equity among peers as well as the people attending events and lessons. Building regulatory measures for safety from the spread of COVID-19 has required the implementation of tracing protocols, data gathering, health screenings and behavioral guidelines, and these measures are being deployed in contexts where there already exist other systems of surveillance and security that disproportionately affect people along lines of disability, race, immigration status, and gender. Furthermore, during a health care crisis just as the one we are living through, access to vaccination, stable housing, testing, employment, reliable information, and even personal protective equipment has been more challenging in working class communities of color. What this could mean to your organization is that while COVID-19 safety is a priority, you and your coworkers should manage to navigate how each regulation affects people from various social backgrounds differently.
Protocols around whether a person is vaccinated, on what type of documentation they carry, or how their employment networks are informed during tracing processes, while addressing efforts to control the spread of a virus, carry a variety of biases that fall on racial and class lines, potentially making your spaces more difficult and indeed less safe for disabled people, working class folk, people of color, and non-citizens. Sharing disability status, or it becoming known due to surveillance, can be quite punitive. For this reason, providing accessibility accommodations, even if not requested, supports disabled folks who do not feel safe openly identifying. What you can do to address this systemic bias is to adapt regulations to make space for the needs and requests of the people you work with and your audiences. For example, valid and important concerns about data gathering might arise from immigrant folk in your working community, and you’ll need to adapt those regulations in ways that honor those concerns. You might need to speak with directly affected folk about what other systems of care, tracing and travel safety you can set up that are informed by their needs and concerns. Before thinking about security or law enforcement support for de-escalation needs that might arise, you should look into other alternative ways of upholding your space regulations and meeting de-escalation needs. Directly affected communities can perhaps point to wants that you should consider when training staff and co-workers.
A safer space is not made through a proclamation of safety or welcoming, but through listening and adaptation processes that involve the wellbeing of people that are affected by an issue. As you review these guidelines and different scenarios, consider their implementation as opportunities to create listening space for directly affected communities and to adapt to their needs and concerns. You’ll have a stronger sense of unity, and ultimately, safety, this way.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
For a condensed version of these Standard Recommendations, including all Mandates and a consolidated list of Best Practices, please visit our General Summary page.
- Cultural Sector Response to lifting of Vaccine and Mask Mandates
- Previous Government Mandates and Updates
- Testing, Screening, Tracking
- Physical Distancing
- Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection
- Return-to-Work Guidance
- Performing, Touring, and International Travel
1. Cultural Sector Response to lifting of Vaccine and Mask Mandates (March 2022)
NYC continues to navigate the ongoing pandemic with its variants, surges, and over time, its receding levels. The cultural economy, and in particular the live performing arts, are at the front lines of this struggle. Just as Key to NYC required an implementation period, moving away from Key to NYC is a process as well. This document is an attempt to provide guidance and additional references for various parts of the cultural sector.
GENERAL SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS ACROSS GENRES
With Governor Hochul’s lifting of mask mandates, and Mayor Adams’ suspension of the Key to NYC vaccine rules, the sector is moving forward with safe and considered protocols scaffolded as appropriate to the activity in each part of the sector. It should be noted that “New York State’s Department of Health continues to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. And children 2 – 5 years old who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.” The cultural community considers itself a partner to the city’s efforts to steer the city toward a safe, healthy and vibrant future.
Much of the sector employs union workers, and those unions safety requirements will continue to take precedence. In the absence of union protections, arts and culture workers need crucial baseline safety protocols–particularly if their work involves close and sustained physical proximity, as in dance and many performing arts. The safety of public-facing staff, many of whom returned to work with the assurance of safety measures, must also be considered.
COVID safety is also an equity issue as it has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, disabled people, immigrants, and other historically under-resourced communities, and the cultural sector’s response to continuing safety protocols must reflect the needs and interests of these key members of the sector. For more on equity and mandates, review equity guidance from Dance/NYC and Gibney’s Reopening Dance in NYC Digital Toolkit below.
We will continue to communicate with our partners in government and ask both the administration and the cultural sector to remember the need for flexibility. The public health crisis continues to morph, and both the virus and our tools to combat it are continually shifting. Safety measures cannot be turned on and off overnight. Plans for safe reopening must be continually updated. So we ask that all parties stay in communication and work together to keep everyone safe so we can all enjoy culture together!
GENRE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE
For theater, the Broadway League announced that it would adopt a “mask optional” policy for the month of July. Audience members are still encouraged to wear masks in theaters. Audience masking protocols for August and beyond will be evaluated on a monthly basis and will be announced in mid-July. Most theaters are no longer checking vaccination status.
In the off and off off Broadway world, the Alliance of Resident Theaters of NY (A.R.T./NY) has released a statement providing the guidance that all shows currently in production and rehearsal will maintain mask and vaccine requirements. Dance/NYC and Gibney offer their continually updated guidance in its toolkit for Reopening Dance in NYC. Performing arts unions are continuing with their current protocols, requiring these safety measures be provided to their working members.
Dance/NYC and Gibney have collaborated on a Reopening Toolkit for the dance sector which continues to be updated as conditions change.
ACCESSIBILITY: For a comprehensive guide to making events more accessible for those who are able to attend in-person, check out “Access Suggestions for Public Events,” created by disability justice based performance project Sins Invalid.
2. Previous Government Mandates
KEY TO NYC:
Businesses including indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues) are no longer required by the City to check for proof of vaccination for entry. The city has designated that cultural institutions can determine their own policies regarding masking and vaccination.
Key to NYC Workplace Vaccination Requirement: All private-sector employers in NYC must see proof of vaccination from their employees. . Those employers are required to sign and publicly post an affirmation that they’re complying with the mandate. Also included are rideshare drivers, people who rent space in a coworking office, and therapists who visit clients in their home. The City may fine employers $1,000+ for violations. Visit this City Vaccine Workplace Requirement webpage to learn more about complying with the mandate. Learn more about what employers need to know about the NYC Vaccine Mandate.
For reference – Key to NYC requirements that were in effect August 2021 through March 2022:
ll people over the age of 5 are required to show proof of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO (except for those 18 years and older who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) for indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues). The mayor also announced 5-11-year-old children are required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities. These activities include sports, band, orchestra, and dance. These requirements also mean that employees working at these locations must be fully vaccinated. People 18 and older are also required to show identification along with their proof of vaccination.
Resources on vaccines and the Key to NYC program can be found on the Vaccines page of this website. Responsible Parties should be prepared to, at any time, adjust and adapt between various levels of danger zones in the event of positive cases within the organization, an increase in COVID cases in the area, and/or the emergence of new COVID variants of concern.
NY HERO Act:
The New York HERO Act, which designated COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health, is no longer in effect. Private sector employers are still required to have an Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (the “Plan”), but are no longer required to implement the Plan at this time. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with the previous HERO Act standards.
MASK REQUIREMENTS AND UPDATES
Check your COVID-19 Community Level on the CDC website to find whether your area is considered low-, medium-, or high-risk for COVID-19, and recommendations for masking. Health officials emphasized that people should still wear face coverings if they wish or if they are personally at high risk, and spaces/venues/organizations may choose to require masks at their own discretion.
NEW YORK STATE AND CITY:
While state- and city-wide masking mandates have largely been lifted, businesses, local governments, and counties can choose to implement mask mandates. Mandates or recommendations on the local level supersede state mandates.
Masks are still required in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, public transportation, and related entities.
New York State and the State’s Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Learn about the best KN95 masks for COVID protection.
INDUSTRY UNION GUIDANCE:
For up-to-date requirements and recommendations for those working within a unionized sector; or to be referenced as Best Practices:
- American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA): Updated Guidance and New CDC COVID Framework
- Actors’ Equity: COVID-19 Information for Producers
- SAG-AFTRA: COVID-19 Safety Protocols
- Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC): COVID-19 Resources and Contracts
Due to changes to NYS COVID-19 Restrictions and New York Forward Industry Guidance, some of the below recommendations have been archived or labeled as a best practice for general maintenance of public health within the workplace. The archived sections are still included within the content of these Standard Recommendations for reference and as a resource should a business wish to continue to abide by archived guidance.
Independent dance workers, note that your activities are likely considered moderate or high risk unless you are a soloist. The “type of dance risk” will vary based on the actual activities you plan to engage in and when, such as: individual or distanced group activities; organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups; organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups; local performances and/or showings; and/or touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings, requiring travel.
Independent dance workers that are unionized, be sure to review your union guidance, as it may further classify your type of work and set additional regulations. Your employer and/or Responsible Parties should be aware of this guidance, but if not, please direct them to these resources to ensure they are working in alignment:
- Reference the most updated version of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s (SDC) guidelines.
- AGMA released Emergency Guidance on the Omicron Surge on December 21, 2021, to outline enhanced recommendations for companies.
- The third version of the AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook was released on October 9, 2020.
- Reference SAG-AFTRA’s “Safety First” resources and The COVID-19 Return to Work Agreement, which is the outcome of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), created in collaboration with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to develop science-based protocols to minimize the risk of transmission, designed with the unique work environments of film and television production in mind.
Independent dance workers, be aware of the various pod, bubble, or cohort systems that your employer or dance company may employ, such as:
- A “bubbling” model, which allows a group of select individuals to interact mask-free due to established rules (eg. living together, no interaction with anyone outside of your bubble, etc.), medical protocols, tests, and vigilance. A presiding authority is required to decide what the rules, protocols, and vigilance measures should be for your bubble. See also: Pod, Cohort.
- Learn more about this technique from this article: “The Bubble Doctor In: She Keeps Dance Companies Moving” (NYT, 10/19/20)
- A cohort model for internal groups, like a dance company or staff:
- Use a survey to transparently explain the working cohort approach, expected participation, and any implications of opting out, as well as requesting comfort level ratings, questions, and concerns.
- With members’ feedback, collectively finalize and agree on your cohort approach, with options to revisit it at any time or for members to opt-out without financial repercussion at any time.
- A working cohort approach may look like:
- Requiring a COVID test 14 days before returning to work.
- Requiring 100% participation in self-quarantine for the 14 days of quarantine, before returning to work.
- Confirming COVID test results, when available, with all cohort members.
- Privacy note: Due to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your HR department or another internal point of contact cannot legally save or track detailed personal test information; they can merely track the date and “pass/fail.” If you are not comfortable sharing a screenshot or paper trail of test results, consider providing this information over an unrecorded, password-protected zoom meeting (visually, without a paper trail, or verbally).
- An agreement to not increase each cohort member’s social bubble throughout rehearsals/performances and/or an agreement to get additional testing or quarantine in the instance that social interaction increases.
- An agreement around travel to and from rehearsals/performances that could be in the form of intentional studio and venue selection based on proximity, investing in a stipend for (and encouraging) non-public transit, and/or training around how to use public transportation in the safest manner possible, coupled with travel slated in during non-peak hours.
- Requiring testing every two (2) weeks to ensure continued safety among the cohort.
- In some instances, this approach may allow for partnering and dancing with contact, however, masks should remain on at all times.
- A cohort is a group of select individuals within a larger group of individuals who are kept together to engage in their activity through scheduling measures that promote consistent separation of one cohort from another and therefore control interaction. See also: Pod, Bubble
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Independent dance workers, please note that in 2020-2021, businesses were able to use their NAICS number (a 2-6 digit number) to identify their industry’s open/closed/restricted status based on statewide COVID-19 closures and protocol. As of July 2022 there are no longer restrictions on businesses In New York State, but it is recommended that businesses know their NAICS number for both general use and in the event of potential industry-wide closures or restrictions in the future.
- If a business does not know its industry number (NAICS number), which is anywhere from two (2) to six (6) digits long, they can determine it here. Search a keyword related to the business in the top search bar on the left side of the page.
- Please note that if an organization aligns with multiple industries, there may be more than one industry classification that is relevant.
Relevant NAICS codes:
- NAICS 711120 – Dance Company
- NAICS 561110 – Office Administrative Services
- NAICS 711510 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
- NAICS 711310 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities
- NAICS 711320 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events without Facilities
- NAICS 711219 – Other Spectator Sports
While state- and city-wide masking mandates have largely been lifted (including in public schools and most public spaces), businesses, local governments, and counties can choose to implement mask mandates. Mandates or recommendations on the local level supersede state mandates.
Masks are still required in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, public transportation, and related entities in New York City.
New York State and the State’s Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing (and six feet of physical distancing) in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required and regardless of vaccination status. Children 2 – 5 years old who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.
Responsible Parties may require that employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members are permitted entry into the studio, theater, or performing arts center only if they wear an acceptable face covering, provided that they are over the age of two (2) years and able to medically tolerate such covering.
- Any mask requirements that businesses choose to implement must adhere to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act).
The CDC recommends wearing a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for the individual. Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely-woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.
Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, cloth-based face coverings and disposable masks appropriate for exercise that cover both the mouth and nose. Learn about the CDC’s Guide to Masks.
- Bandanas, buffs, masks with vents, or gaiters are not acceptable face coverings for dancers’ use in studios, theaters, or performing arts centers.
- However, cloth, disposable, or other homemade face coverings are not acceptable face coverings for workplace activities that typically require a higher degree of protection for personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the nature of the work. For those activities, N95 respirators or other PPE used under existing industry standards should continue to be used, in accordance with OSHA guidelines. Learn about the best KN95 masks for COVID protection.
- The CDC offers additional ways you can improve how your mask protects you.
- For individuals who are unable to medically tolerate an acceptable face covering, Responsible Parties must ensure that such individuals wear a face shield at all times. However, the CDC “does not currently recommend use of face shields as a [sufficient] substitute for masks.”
- Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance.
Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use and may not be shared. Please consult the CDC guidance for additional information on cloth face coverings and other types of PPE, as well as instructions on use and cleaning.
- Responsible Parties must advise employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience to regularly clean or replace their face coverings if they become wet or soiled.
Individuals may choose or be required to wear their face coverings during dance activity of any kind—performances (inclusive of any group activity with an audience like fully produced shows, informal shows, open rehearsals, practice sessions, dance battles, dance jams, etc.) classes, and rehearsals. When wearing such coverings interferes with necessary aspects such as hair, makeup, or wardrobe, performers may temporarily remove their face coverings and should don them as soon as possible.
The following exceptions are permitted for all employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members:
- Individuals may be temporarily permitted to remove face coverings while eating or drinking, so long as they maintain six (6) feet of distance from other individuals.
- Individuals may be temporarily permitted to remove face coverings in aquatic settings (e.g. pool, individual shower).
- Individuals may be temporarily permitted to remove face coverings if they are working solo in a designated space (so long as there is adequate ventilation and room turnover time before the next individual enters the studio) or if the individuals in the space are cohabitating.
Responsible Parties may further ensure individuals not participating in dance activities (e.g. teachers, audience members) wear acceptable face coverings when they are less than six (6) feet from other individuals, unless a physical barrier is present. Additionally, employees may be asked to wear face coverings anytime they interact with patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members, regardless of physical distance.
- If you are a solo dancer or dance worker, you may be permitted to rehearse and train without a mask, as long as you are the only individual in the space with the doors closed and windows open. Be sure to confirm with the Responsible Party/Parties.
Responsible Parties should always have masks available for the public.
In addition to the necessary PPE as required for certain workplace activities, Responsible Parties must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain acceptable face coverings, and provide such coverings to their employees while at work at no cost to the employee. Responsible Parties should have an adequate supply of face coverings, masks, and other required PPE on hand should an employee need a replacement, or should a patron/dancer/teacher/audience member be in need.
Responsible Parties must train workers on how to adequately don, doff, clean (as applicable), and discard PPE, including, but not limited to, acceptable face coverings.
Independent dance workers, consider the following when dancing in a mask:
- A mask will make it harder to breathe during exercise initially and dancers should self-monitor for symptoms of light-headedness, dizziness, numbness or tingling, and shortness of breath
- Monitor the intensity of your class/workout as you get used to wearing a mask during exercise.
- Your body will adapt over a few weeks to wearing a mask
- If you start to feel dizzy, imbalanced, or over-fatigued, stop your activity and rest.
- You may require multiple masks to get through the day.
- If your mask becomes saturated with moisture from breathing or sweat you need to change into a dry mask. A wet mask is less efficient than a dry mask at filtering bacteria and viruses.
- Disposable masks should be worn only once and then replaced with a fresh mask.
- All reusable masks should be cleaned ideally in a washer with hot water and soap and then dried in a dryer before next use.
- There are now multiple commercial reusable mask options available for use during dance/exercise. Check out an article of recommended face masks for exercise.
For more information, please check out our VACCINES specific page.
Though no longer mandated by the city (except for the still-mandated private sector Workplace Vaccination Requirement), Responsible Parties may choose to continue following the vaccination policies outlined in the former Key to NYC Pass Program to maximize health and safety in their spaces. This program required that all people over the age of 5 show proof of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO (except for those 18 years and older who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) for indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance and other fitness studios), and indoor entertainment (includes theaters and performance venues). 5-11-year-old children were also required to get vaccinated to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities, including sports, band, orchestra, and dance. These requirements also meant that employees working at these locations must be fully vaccinated. People 18 and older were required to show identification along with their proof of vaccination.
Key to NYC Workplace Vaccination Requirement: All private-sector employers in NYC must see proof of full vaccination from their employees. Those employers are required to sign and publicly post an affirmation that they’re complying with the mandate. Also included are rideshare drivers, people who rent space in a coworking office, and therapists who visit clients in their home. The City may fine employers $1,000+ for violations. Visit this City Vaccine Workplace Requirement webpage to learn more about complying with the mandate. Learn more about what employers need to know about the NYC Vaccine Mandate.
Proof of vaccination
Proof of vaccination may include:
Excelsior Pass is a digital ecosystem that enables individuals to store digital proof of test results and/or vaccine status and businesses and venues to verify these items without accessing personal health data. Learn more and download the app on the New York Forward website. In considering the use of Excelsior Pass, account for the many data privacy and legitimate concerns from immigrant communities all over New York.
NYC COVID Safe App is part of the “Key to NYC Pass” initiative to provide proof of vaccination. Many New York City employers, businesses, and venues are requiring verification of immunization or weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test for their workforce and patrons. Use this app to store and present the necessary documentation to verify that you have met these requirements. The documentation you upload into this app is not shared with anyone and stays on your phone only.
More information on COVID-19 Vaccines can be found here:
6. Testing, Screening, Tracking
For a comprehensive list of testing resources, please refer to our Vaccines and Testing page.
Responsible Parties may ensure that (dance and non-dance) employees whose job functions or roles involve close or proximate contact with others, have been tested for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test prior to their participation in on-site activity, and continue to be tested on a regular schedule thereafter (e.g. once per week, every two (2) weeks, etc.) when on site or location.
- Responsible Parties can consider testing employees and performers/talent in advance of a specific performance or event, and continue following a regular testing schedule for as long as those parties are actively working at performances/events at the venue.
Responsible Parties may require proof of a negative Rapid (antigen) or PCR (molecular) test to enter a facility, studio, venue, performance space, etc. (may be in addition to or instead of requiring proof of vaccination).
- While more accurate, PCR tests often take longer to give a result. Responsible Parties may request a negative PCR test from anywhere between the previous 24-72 hours, knowing that the more recent, the more accurate the test will be.
- While generally less accurate, antigen (also called “rapid”) tests give results more quickly, usually within 15 minutes of taking the test. Responsible Parties may request a negative antigen test anywhere from immediately (testing done on-side) up to 24 hours prior to an event, knowing that the more recent, the more accurate the test will be.
Independent dance workers, consider limiting your work to one group or project at a time to reduce exposure to too many people. When this is not possible, consider increasing the frequency of your COVID testing to ensure that you are not putting anyone else’s health at risk.
If you are a dancer or dance worker who does not have health insurance, know that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. Those seeking health insurance may consider visiting:
If you are a dancer or dance worker covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance, reach out to your point of contact to determine if it covers you in the instance that you contract COVID-19 while on the job.
CDC Recommendations for People with COVID-19 and COVID-19 Close Contacts (updated as of August 2022):
If you tested positive for COVID-19 or have mild symptoms and are waiting for test results:
- Isolate. Stay at home for at least 5 days.
- Wear a mask, stay in a separate room from other people, and use a separate bathroom if you can.
- Do not travel for 10 days.
- If you can’t wear a mask, stay home and away from other people for 10 days.
- Contact your healthcare provider to discuss your test results and available treatment options.
At day 6 if symptoms are improving and you have no fever without fever-reducing medication for 24 hours:
- You can leave isolation.
- Keep wearing a mask around other people for 5 more days.
If your symptoms are not improving and/or you still have fever:
- Continue to stay home until 24 hours after your fever stops without using fever-reducing medication and your symptoms have improved.
After you feel completely better, keep wearing a mask around other people at home and in public through day 10.
If you have you been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19:
- Quarantine: If you are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines or haven’t had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days. Avoid travel through day 10. If you are up to date or had COVID-19 in the past 90 days you do not have to quarantine.
- Wear a mask around other people for 10 days.
- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days.
- Get tested on or after day 5 or if you have symptoms. People who had COVID-19 in the past 90 days should only get tested if they develop symptoms.
Independent dance workers, encourage all dancers to self-monitor their symptoms. This may include but is not limited to:
- Checking for fever > 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath twice a day
- Daily review of other symptoms that could be related, e.g. sore throat, congestion, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sense of smell, pink eye
Anyone who develops symptoms should leave immediately, seek care from their physician, and isolate.
Independent dance workers, please consider participating in health screenings before any indoor or outdoor activities/gatherings, and understand that Responsible Parties may also require more than one (1) screening per day (e.g. if you exit and re-enter the facility).
If you are a dancer or dance worker conducting or participating in performances, consider your ability to foster a safe environment with screening and tracking capability for all dancers and audiences by using:
- Tickets and RSVPs, with all necessary contact information, required for attendance
- On-site staff to manually collect necessary information to the best of their ability
- A “sign-in” for the public when performing in a public space to capture necessary information to the best of your ability
Proceed with all of the above with the full understanding and transparency that you are not going to be able to enforce full public participation and/or cannot ensure the safety of yourself, other dancers, or the public this way.
Independent dance workers, know your rights when it comes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks. Health checks that use only pass/fail are permissible, whereas your actual temperature and any additional health details are your private information and are not to be shared or tracked.
- If you are a disabled artist, note that the ADA permits employers to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety, which is to be determined based on the best available objective medical evidence. Guidance from CDC or other public health authorities is such evidence. Therefore, employers will be acting consistent with the ADA as long as any screening implemented is consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities for that type of workplace at that time.
Independent dance workers, be aware of and, when relevant, communicate in advance what information individuals are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19.
Independent dance workers, ask or determine who the Responsible Parties’ central point of contact is. This point of contact may vary by activity, location, shift or day; they are responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all health screening questionnaires, and for receiving information from patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members who later experience COVID-19-related symptoms.
Independent Dance Workers, remember that if you are alerted, via tracing, tracking, or another mechanism, that you have come into close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19, it is best practice to self-report to any and all employers at the time of the alert and follow any protocol provided.
7. Physical Distancing
7a. General Best Practices
Responsible Parties may ensure that a distance of at least six (6) feet is maintained among individuals, including employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members, at all times, unless safety or the main activity requires a shorter distance (e.g. moving equipment, using an elevator, attending to a medical emergency). It is recommended that exercise or dance activity always allow for at least six (6) feet of distance between individuals, with 8–12 feet recommended when dance activity occurs within a confined space, for maximum safety.
7b. Dance Activity Best Practices
Responsible Parties should further consider these physical-distancing scenarios as dependent on the type of dance activity, and modify the use of, reorganize, and/or restrict the capacity per studio and theater, along with access to related equipment, including dance floors (e.g. barres, mats, chairs, etc.), as needed:
- General minimum six (6) feet of distance as much as possible. Greater distance = lower risk of transmission
- At least eight (8) feet (10 feet is preferable) of distance between dancers who are side by side and at least ten (10) feet (12 feet is preferable) of distance between those dancers who are in front and/or behind when taping off dance areas in a studio, a theater, and/or performing arts centers.
- At least twelve (12) feet of distance between any dance teacher/instructor/faculty and the closest individual.
- At least twelve (12) feet of distance between the perimeter of any dance activity area and the closest audience member.
- At least six (6) feet of distance in all directions between all audience members.
- At least six (6) feet of distance in all directions between musicians who do not require their breath to play instruments or perform.
- In an instance where musicians’ performance space is not sectioned off or partitioned, musicians should maintain at least twelve (12) feet of physical distance between them and the closest audience member.
- At least twenty-five (25) feet of distance between any live singer and the closest audience member.
Independent dance workers, arrive with dance clothes or costumes on or under street clothes, whenever possible, to avoid communal gathering in dressing rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms.
Independent dance workers, do not linger on-site and use the “get in, dance, get out” approach, as coined by Ausdance NSW, for all on-site dance activity.
7c. Enclosed Spaces
“Enclosed Spaces” are meant to encompass spaces without external ventilation such as windows and may include restrooms, elevators, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and some studio spaces.
Be aware of the increased risk of exposure that comes with regularly using shared and/or enclosed spaces like elevators and restrooms. Avoid them when possible, and when this is not possible, be sure to have PPE and practice thorough hand hygiene.
If you are a dancer or dance worker who is a member of a company, ask for any new or updated safe workforce policies and procedures about workday schedules, remote time, lunch breaks, sick leave policy, and benefits.
Independent dance workers, ask what the “whistleblowing” method (that allows for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys) is for you to share if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if you see someone not complying with health and safety measures.
If you are a dancer or dance worker who is a member of a company or organization, consider asking for your employer’s reopening plans, safety protocols, and contact information for points of contact/site safety managers/liaisons if it has not been readily provided to you.
Ask for and/or follow the protocols provided to you by your employer. Remember that Responsible Parties may vary depending on the dance activity you are engaging in and where (in some instances the Responsible Party may be your company; in other instances, it will be the studios, theaters, and/or performing arts centers in which your work takes place). The protocols of each Responsible Party may vary. If you are not comfortable with a Responsible Party’s safety measures or lack thereof, consider discussing this with the Responsible Party, reconsidering your engagement, and/or establishing increased safety measures for yourself.
Independent dance workers, it is recommended that you establish a written agreement with your company staff, group, or dancers to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, as well as lists of points of contact, site safety managers, and company liaisons have been received and reviewed by all.
- Include an option to sign and date in agreement with the caveat that the employee or employer can revisit and request changes to the agreement/protocol at any time.
- Include an option to sign, date, and opt out of the agreement; provide what the implications or compromise will be (repositioned within a staff department in need of support, provided a new company role during this interim period, asked to lead or build out virtual dance activities, engaged with an hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
- Include a disclaimer of your plan for data gathering and confidentiality for health and tracing purposes, along with how data will be erased/destroyed, with an option to sign, date, request higher levels of confidentiality or opt out of this part of the agreement.
- In the instance of a significant (more than 50%) lack of consensus, your reopening plans should be revisited and amended to ensure the safety and security of your dancers and staff to the best of your ability.
If you are a dancer or dance worker who leads a project, collective, or company, consider digital and, if relevant, on-site signage related to your specific public reopening protocols, disclaimers, and/or codes of conduct to ensure transparency among everyone who engages with your project, collective, or company.
- Further ensure that dancers or dance students with lived experience of disability fully understand the health risks and COVID safety measures and consent to participating in rehearsal, class, and/or performance with the knowledge they can withdraw, as desired, at any point.
If you are a dancer or dance worker who leads a project, collective, or company, ensure all COVID-19 information and reopening protocols are communicated clearly and accessibly, whether written or spoken:
- For all digital communication to your dance community (e.g. via Facebook or in your e-newsletter), ensure images are verbally described in the image’s caption and ensure that information can be read via screen readers (e.g. avoid screenshots of Twitter posts).
- Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to further your digital accessibility measures.
- Depending on student/staff/parent cohorts, consider providing ASL interpretation of health updates, Braille versions of key signage and a COVID safe badge, and Easy Read versions of all or select COVID-related communications to support those who are deaf/hard of hearing, those who are blind/vision-impaired, or those with intellectual disability.
- For spoken communication to people with companions, ensure communication is directed squarely to the person and not their companion.
Consider communicating (e.g. on your website, in rental agreements, in class and space confirmation emails) and/or asking what cleaning and disinfectant products are being used in your rehearsal space to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions.
9. Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection
Independent dance workers, consider having additional hand sanitizer for your regular use, especially when in enclosed or shared spaces.
To all dancers and dance workers: Participate in digital training on COVID-19 safety including hand and respiratory hygiene, PPE protocols and access, and cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures, and explore ongoing, regular training sessions. Example resources include:
9a. Air Handling Systems
Independent dance workers, be mindful of the air-conditioning and/or fan direction within your space, and avoid lining up or dancing in that airflow path.
- Talk to your manager or the manager of the space about what has been implemented to ensure proper ventilation.
- Follow any directions or signage in the space about keeping windows/doors open.
- Follow any direction or signage in the space about adjusting fan or AC settings.
10. Return-to-Work Guidance
Consider these steps for a comfortable transition back to the indoor or outdoor studio/theater:
- Establish (or ask for) clear communication and safety agreements and protocols with all company members about re-entry to the field.
- Offer (or ask for) collective and anonymous methods of gathering dancer feedback and comfort level before reopening and on an ongoing basis.
- Share (or ask for) any communication provided by the studio(s), theater(s), or performing arts center(s) you are working with.
- Be flexible (or ask for flexibility) as you schedule dance activities (keeping travel safety in mind) and projects, residencies, performances, and tours (keeping commitments to a minimum in this time of great uncertainty).
- Explore and integrate (or ask for) virtual/digital processes into your company’s workflow as a backup measure in the instance of 1) another lockdown and/or 2) some dancers opting out of indoor dance activity due to safety concerns.
- Create (or ask for) a general “Dance Company Plan for Indoor Activity” for all indoor dance activities and measures the company agrees to abide by, in addition to the venue/Responsible Party’s safety measures.
- Create (or ask for) a general “Dance Company Plan for Outdoor Activity” for all outdoor dance activities and measures the company agrees to make above, beyond, and/or in addition to the venue/Responsible Party’s safety measures. Provisions can include:
- Temperature and weather-related parameters
- Water and bio-break policy: including additional time to access facilities that may be further away than if in a studio setting
- Accessibility of outdoor space, facilities, and environment
- Game plan for handling potential interactions with the public (if rehearsing in a public outdoor space)
Be aware that limited on-site staffing across studios, theaters, and performing arts centers may mean a more limited capacity for production elements and support.
Independent dance workers, consider the timing of your end goal:
- Does it make sense for you and other dancers to return to the studios to condition if safe performance cannot happen until months later?
- How will you make space to recondition your and other dancers’ endurance and strength after such an extended and unusual layoff/industry pause?
- Since you have had to condition in smaller spaces, on different floor surfaces, and/or with varied instruction, you will need an appropriate and graded progression back to full dancing that will require a minimum of four to six (4–6) weeks depending on your company and dance genre.
Independent dance workers, consider suggesting phased-in dance activity to your company/group, such as one with the following steps:
- Quarantine for a predetermined number of days before resuming regular rehearsal/training activity to establish a cohort.
- Have a dance company liaison coordinate advance needs and protocols with the studio, theater, or performing arts center(s) at which you are training and rehearsing and clearly relay information to your dance company.
- Prioritize any solo, duet, or trio repertoire before resuming group repertoire, as much as possible
- Integrate digital media for streamed teaching or performance as much as possible.
- Resume live performance or showings with live audiences as your final phase of re-entry.
- See Dance/USA’s “Return to Dancing & Training Considerations” for a more detailed example of a phased reopening approach for dance activity. (Published May 2020)
Consider suggesting a phased-in approach for dancers to your company/group:
- Phases One to Three (Weeks 0–6) are characterized by the re-acquisition of skill and increase in strength and endurance.
- Phases Four and Five (Weeks 7 plus) are characterized by the reintroduction of more complex skills and increased intensity and duration of training.
- Review these phases and strategies in further detail, as presented in Performance Medicine’s Return to Dance Safely for a simple yet effective way to apply scientific loading principles and research so that you can return to dance in a safe and sustainable way.
Independent dance workers, be sure to consistently use facilities’ digital pre-registration, pre-space booking, and pre-ticket reservations to book class, space, and/or buy tickets.
12. Performing, Touring, and International Travel
Consider making the following travel requests of your company and/or group:
- Can dancers be provided transportation or a stipend to avoid public transit?
- Can classes, rehearsals, and other dance activities be strategically scheduled so that dancers can avoid public transit during rush hours?
- Can we use rehearsal locations close to where dancers live so that dancers may walk and/or bike?
- Can rehearsals and other dance activities be accessed virtually or remotely to avoid travel or public transit?
The following are recommendations for dancers and dance workers participating in performances or festivals:
- Determine what “safe” interaction means for you, your dance company, or group, based on individual or group comfort levels, agreements, the implementation of any bubbling, pod, or cohort model, and how many artists or groups are being presented.
- Ask for clarity on what the agreement is with the venue or festival, who is the Responsible Party in this instance, for safety protocols and support, along with any additional measures you, your dance company, or group wishes to and will independently enforce.
- Adhere to any requirements for physical distancing during on-site classes or rehearsals leading up to the performance (taped off or otherwise marked areas for dancers, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.), keeping in mind that it is best practice to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from the public at all times.
- Understand whether or not a live audience is allowed, based on the size and nature of the space and its ability to accommodate both performers and the public/audience members safely.
- Adhere to any requirements for physical distancing during the performance (taped off or otherwise marked areas for audience, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.), keeping in mind that it is best practice to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from the public at all times.
- Wear face masks at all times, unless you are explicitly allowed to remove them for the full or part of the performance.
- Anticipate a disclaimer in performance promotion about the possibility of an understudy or change of repertory in the instance that you or another member of your company is confirmed to have COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms near or around the performance date.
- Be sure to comply with all recommendations that apply to anyone entering the studio, theater, or performing arts center (e.g. mask-wearing, health screening, social distance, etc.)
- Further, consider doing the following:
- Encourage the prevention of on-site audiences for informal gatherings like showings and open rehearsals,
- Use virtual streaming as an alternative to reach audiences.
- If welcoming on-site audiences, abide by any capacity limits and/or audience seating recommendations, such as ensuring that individuals remain six (6) feet apart in all directions, are avoiding paths of airflow, and are located in a large open space with high ceilings, windows, and/or adequate HVAC and circulation requirements.
If you are a dancer or dance worker performing via live streaming without a live audience, consider separate agreements for live streaming apart from a standard performance/tour fee and further determine any conditions regarding the use of the live stream content.
If you are a dance worker who typically tours, note state, national, and international travel restrictions and updates. The following are recommendations as you plan future touring engagements:
- Consider your comfort level in resuming touring.
- Request that all social distancing, PPE, and hygiene protocols remain in place for dancers and audiences.
- Confirm from those planning the tour that additional safety measures will be budgeted for, confirm what those measures are, and understand the implications if you choose to not participate close to the touring date.
Be aware of and communicate these current requirements for international travel (as of August 2022):
The following rules apply, as per the CDC’s International Travel Requirements:
- U.S Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants traveling internationally to the USA:
- no vaccine requirement to re-enter the U.S.
- Non-U.S. Citizens, Non-U.S. Immigrants:
- You must be fully vaccinated to travel to the United States by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa). Only limited exceptions apply.
The CDC strongly recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself from severe disease, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants. People who are not fully vaccinated should follow additional recommendations before, during, and after travel.