Last Updated: 8.23.2022 at 10:00 a.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
- Testing, Screening, Tracking
- Physical Distancing
- Communication and Signage
- Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection
- Return-to-Office Guidance
- Notes on 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.
Office-based dance workers, note that your activities are likely considered lower risk due to your ability to maintain physical distance, perform duties individually, avoid shared equipment, and, in many instances, engage in remote work. The “type of risk” will vary based your position and the actual activities you need to engage in and when, such as: on-site or remote individual or distanced group activities; on-site or remote organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups; on-site or remote organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups; on-site or remote local performances and/or showings; and/or on-site or remote touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings, requiring travel.
Be aware of the various pod, bubble, and cohort systems that your employer or dance company may employ to ensure the safety of its artists, 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.
- Learn more about this technique from this article: “The Bubble Doctor Is 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 member’s 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 prior to returning to work.
- Requiring 100% participation in self-quarantine prior to 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 other internal point of contact cannot legally save or track detailed personal test information; they can merely track the date and “pass/fail.” If individuals are not comfortable sharing a screenshot or paper trail of test results, they may provide this information over an unrecorded, password protected zoom meeting (visually, without 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 a 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.
- 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.
- Business model adjustment to create a cohort model for external groups, like dance classes and client rental bookings:
- Note that when the individuals are not employees, the cohort model will need to be more lenient and focused on internal management and on-site health screenings as opposed to the individual testing, quarantining, and travel decisions of external parties.
- Internally, the goal would be to reduce exposure by:
- Instead of drop-in classes offered to the public at large, making multiple dance class sessions available for sign up over a specific time period on different days or staggered within the same day.
- Instead of ad hoc rentals offered to the public at large, prioritizing larger-scale rental commitments like lockouts, space partnerships, those with clients who have consistent space needs over a specific time period, and/or one (1) rental client per day.
- 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.
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
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 you do not know your industry number (NAICS number), which is anywhere from two (2) to six (6) digits long, you can determine it here. Search a keyword related to your business in the top search bar on the left side of the page.
- Please note that if your 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
To all office-based dance workers who are participating in a regular testing protocol with their employer:
- Remember that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations.
- Confirm what the accountability plan is for test monitoring, which may look like sending a screenshot of confirmed test results with your employer’s point of contact or HR department, sending an email confirming confirmed test results, reporting on test results verbally, showing test results in person, showing test results while on a video conference, and/or a combination of any of these methods based on individual comfort level.
If you are an office-based 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.
If you are an office-based 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:
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.
Be aware of and, when relevant, communicate in advance what individuals are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19.
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.
Encourage all workers 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.
Office-based dance workers, please understand that Responsible Parties may require more than one (1) health screening per day (e.g. if you exit and re-enter the facility).
Know one’s 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 actual temperature and/or additional health details are one’s private information and are not to be shared or tracked).
- For disabled artists, also 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.
Communicate contact tracing procedures that come into place when someone from the group is infected, which can include where data is stored, how it is used, how long it is maintained. Communicate if there are various ways to notify other employers or spaces in ways that are anonymous, or that don’t require personal data about individuals’ families, addresses, etc, that might be of particular importance to undocumented workers.
It is a best practice that if you are alerted that you have come into close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19, you self-report to any and all employers at the time of alert and shall follow any protocol provided.
7. Physical Distancing
7a. General Best Practices
For office-based work or non-dance activity in a studio, theater, or performing arts center:
- The total number of occupants should not exceed 100% of the maximum occupancy at any given time for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy, limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the recommended physical distance of six (6) feet.
- Responsible Parties may modify or reconfigure the use and/or restrict the number of workstations, employee seating areas, and desks, so that employees are at least six (6) feet apart in all directions (e.g. side to side and when facing one another) and are not sharing workstations without cleaning and disinfection between use.
- Responsible Parties should mark six (6) feet distance circles around workstations and other common stationary work areas.
- As much as possible, employees that don’t need to be in the office or workplace should be allowed and encouraged to work from home.
- Responsible Parties may ensure that employees at check-in or appointment desks maintain six (6) feet from other employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members, unless there is a physical barrier between the employee and other individual(s). Anytime employees interact with patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members (e.g. operating appointment desks), they may be asked to wear acceptable face coverings.
- When distancing is not feasible in non-dance activity locations (e.g. reception desks), Responsible Parties should erect barriers (e.g. plastic shielding walls) in areas where such barriers would not affect air flow, heating, cooling, or ventilation, or present a health or safety risk.
- If used, physical barriers should be put in place in accordance with OSHA guidelines.
- Physical barrier options may include: strip curtains, plexiglass or similar materials, or other impermeable dividers or partitions.
7b. Dance Activity Best Practices
If you are an office-based dance worker whose role requires you to be on site, help prevent lingering on site by encouraging all parties in the space to use the “get in, dance, get out” approach, as coined by Ausdance NSW, for all on-site dance activity, and by following the “get in, work, get out” approach yourself.
In the instance that the public within the space is congregating and ignoring these requests from the Responsible Party (i.e., office, dance studio, theater, and/or performing arts space), note that states guidance empowers the Responsible Party to remove these groups to eliminate congregating in their space. The Responsible Party may further choose to restrict their access to the space in the future, out of respect for their entire community’s safety.
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.
Office-based dance workers, 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.
8. Communication and Signage
If you are an office-based dance worker involved in external messaging and communication, when communicating about your reopening publicly, consider streamlining your messages, such as:
- What you are doing to keep others safe
- What you are doing to keep yourselves safe
- What your specific policies and procedures are for [PARTICULAR AUDIENCE]:
- Resident Dance Company
Office-based dance workers, 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. If not explicitly included, additionally ask for:
- A “whistleblowing” method (that allows for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys) for you to share if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if you see someone not complying with health and safety measures.
- A plan for addressing those (employees or public) who refuse to comply with local guidance and/or the facility safety protocols.
- A written agreement in place for staff to confirm agreement or discuss alternate options.
If you are an office-based dance worker who leads staff/organizations or works in Human Resources, it is recommended that you establish a written agreement with your company dancers and staff 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 or 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 an office-based dance worker who leads staff/organizations or works in Human Resources, 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 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.
To all office-based dance workers, 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.
9. Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection
Consider communicating (e.g. on your website, in rental agreements, in class and space confirmation emails) what cleaning and disinfectant products you are using to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions.
Consider having additional hand sanitizer for your regular use after using enclosed or shared spaces.
Consider participating 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
Be mindful of the air-conditioning and/or fan direction within your space, and minimize the number of dance workers lined up or working within 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-Office Guidance
If you are an office-based dance worker who does not feel safe returning to your place of work, consider discussing options with your employer:
- If you are considered “non-essential” staff that does not need to be on site to complete your job, have a conversation about extended or continued remote work.
- If you are considered on-site “essential” staff, have a conversation about your desire to be furloughed so that you may collect unemployment compensation and not have the obligation of work for the time being, or to be kept on payroll and temporarily reassigned.
- Have a conversation about how your role can temporarily shift until you feel comfortable to safely return.
- Discuss the potential for temporary assignment to remotely support reopening planning.
- Discuss the potential for temporary assignment to remote administrative duties or to a team in need of additional support.
- Encourage remote professional development activity, mentoring, or shadowing colleagues working in other areas of interest.
- Discuss the possibility of being deployed remotely as a representative and information gatherer across fieldwide calls, meetings, conversations, panels, webinars, etc.
Office-based dance workers, consider and ask your employer for phased-in activity, such as:
- Getting tested and, as possible, quarantining for a predetermined amount of time in advance of resuming a regular in-person office schedule, especially if returning from out of state.
- Clearly identifying who your organization’s “essential” on-site staff are.
- Creating staggered shifts/work schedules and hybrid remote/on-site schedules for all “essential” staff.
- Retaining “non-essential” staff’s remote work for as long as practicable.
- Setting clear testing requirements of on-site staff (e.g. every one to two (1-2) weeks).
- Modifying office layouts prior to transitioning any “non-essential” staff back on site to adhere to social distancing.
Responsible Parties are encouraged to phase in reopening activities so as to allow for operational issues to be resolved before production or work activities return to normal levels. Responsible Parties should consider limiting the number of employees, hours, and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members served when first reopening so as to provide operations with the ability to adjust to the changes.
Measures for Accessibility: An element of the Responsible Party’s phased reopening is bound to be virtual, in order to offer widespread reach and engagement as well as an option for those who feel more safe participating virtually. For any online/virtual offerings, accessibility services such as ASL Interpretation and Live captioning for live streaming as well as ALT text and image descriptions for social media posts provide access to disabled people. For further information on how to incorporate these services into your platforms, please visit NYC guides for Digital Accessibility here.
Responsible Parties may take measures to reduce interpersonal contact and congregation, through methods such as:
- limiting in-person presence to only those staff who are necessary,
- adjusting workplace hours,
- reducing in-office workforce to accommodate physical distancing guidelines,
- encouraging use of outdoor spaces, where possible,
- batching activities, where possible, so employees can adhere to physical distancing,
- shifting design (e.g. A/B teams, staggered arrival/departure times to reduce congestion in lobbies and elevators)
- avoiding multiple teams working in one area by staggering scheduled tasks and using signs to indicate occupied areas, and/or
- developing protocols for the safe use of common office equipment such as telephones, copiers, printers, registers, etc.
Responsible Parties may consider limiting in-person employee gatherings (e.g. staff meetings, in break rooms, in stock rooms) to the greatest extent possible, and consider use of other methods such as video or teleconferencing whenever possible, per CDC guidance “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, Responsible Parties should consider holding meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces and ensuring that individuals maintain six (6) feet of physical distance between one another (e.g. if there are chairs, leave space between chairs, have employees sit in alternating chairs).
Responsible Parties should create policies which encourage employees to work from home when feasible. Responsible Parties may choose to develop return-to-office tiers or waves for employees based on factors such as function, safe transportation, and ability to work remotely. Additionally, Responsible Parties should provide the appropriate infrastructure needed (security, digital network, storage, video conference software, etc.)
Responsible Parties may choose to implement best practices for employees to successfully work from home, such as:
- Conduct regular surveys of employees to determine what practices are working and what can be improved.
- Provide tips and tricks for employees to enhance remote work sustainability.
- Allow for employees to set morning and evening boundaries and take regular breaks throughout the day.
- Inform employees of the resources they have readily available.
- If required, employees that don’t need to be in the office may be allowed to collect documents from their place of work on a case-by-case basis, but such collection should occur minimally, not with frequency.
In addition to general cleaning and training, consider placing your on-site “essential” workers (or asking to be placed) in customer service training, de-escalation training, and COVID-19 management training. As you consider de-escalation training, look or suggest to look for training that offer an anti-oppressive lens, which could mean that they don’t rely principally on calling police or other law enforcement agencies.
Responsible Parties may implement touchless check-in and payment options or pay ahead options to be used by patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members, when available.
Responsible Parties may establish designated areas for pickups and deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.
For merchandise or equipment deliveries, Responsible Parties should implement a touchless delivery system whereby drivers stay in the cab of the vehicle while delivery takes place, or, where not practicable, Responsible Parties must provide acceptable PPE appropriate to the anticipated activities that includes, at minimum, a face covering to personnel involved in the delivery at no cost for the duration of the delivery process.
Responsible Parties may ensure that employees perform hand hygiene before and after transferring a load (e.g. from a delivery driver) of merchandise (e.g. perform hand hygiene before starting to load items; and once all items have been loaded, finish by performing hand hygiene again).
Responsible Parties should follow the NYS DOH food service guidelines applicable to their region for any food services activities.
Responsible Parties should follow the NYS DOH retail guidelines applicable to their region for any retail services activities.
12. Notes on Travel
Office-based dance workers, consider the following for travel to and from your office:
- Whenever possible, and if your position allows, avoid working on site, eliminating the need for travel.
- If you need to travel to the office, plan your travel time to avoid rush hours and discuss staggered work hours with your employer.
- If you must work on site due to the nature of your position, ask if you can be provided transportation or a transportation stipend for non-public transit.
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.