Standard Recommendations

Last Updated: 05.04.2022 at 2:00 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

  1. Cultural Sector Response to lifting of Vaccine and Mask Mandates
  2. Government Mandates and Updates
  3. Classifications
  4. Physical Distancing
  5. Visitor Management 
  6. Communication and Signage
  7. Protective Equipment – Masking
  8. Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection
  9. Return-to-Office Guidance
  10. Commerce
  11. Vaccines
  12. Screening, Testing, Tracking
  13. Dance-specific Enhanced Safety Guidance
  14. Learn More: Dance Field Scenarios 
  15. Consolidated Resources

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

Government recommendations

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.  

Unions 

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. 

Equity Concerns

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. 

Flexibility

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

Theater

For theater, the Broadway League has announced it will continue its current mask requirement for audiences through at least May 31, 2022 , but many theaters will no longer check vaccination status after April 30, 2022.

While masking mandates will remain in place at all Broadway theaters through at least May 31, many theaters may no longer require that audience members provide proof of vaccination. 

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

Dance/NYC and Gibney have collaborated on a Reopening Toolkit for the dance sector which continues to be updated as conditions change. 

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2. GOVERNMENT MANDATES & UPDATES

KEY TO NYC:

As of March 7, 2022, as announced by Mayor Eric Adams, the previous Key to NYC Pass program is suspended. 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. All other vaccine mandates, such as the private sector mandate, in New York City will remain in place at this time.

Still mandated as of March 2022: Key to NYC Workplace Vaccination Requirement: All private-sector employers in NYC must see proof of employees’ first dose by December 27th, 2021 and proof of a second dose by Thursday, February 10th, 2022 (unless the employee got the single-shot Johnson & Johnson). 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:

As per Mayor de Blasio’s expansion of the Key to NYC Pass program (original date of effect August 16, 2021), as of January 29, 2022 all 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:

As of March 17, 2022, the New York State Commissioner of Health ended the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health under New York’s HERO Act. 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. 

For reference – HERO Act designation that was in effect September 2021 through March 2022:

On September 6, Governor Kathy Hochul designated COVID-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans to prevent workplace infections. 

MASK REQUIREMENTS AND UPDATES

CDC:

On February 25, 2022, the CDC announced relaxed masking guidelines for communities in areas considered to be “low risk.” As of that announcement, all counties of NYC and Long Island fall into the “low risk” category, meaning the CDC is no longer encouraging indoor mask use in these areas. 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:

Following a mask mandate during the winter COVID-19 Omicron surge in New York State, as of March 2, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York State will end the mask requirement for schools. This policy change was echoed by Mayor Eric Adams, who announced that beginning March 7, 2022, the indoor mask mandate in NYC public schools in grades K-12 will be lifted. 

This news followed the February 10, 2022 announcement from Governor Kathy Hochul that the statewide indoor mask or vaccine requirement mandate would be lifted. Businesses, local governments, and counties can choose to implement a mask mandate. 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. Children 2 – 5 years old who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask. 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:

Please note:

Due to recent 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.

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3. CLASSIFICATIONS (risk levels, types of activities, cohort/bubble/pods, etc.)

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Sports & Recreation Guidance”)

The ability to participate in dance activities is determined by a combination of the risk for COVID-19 transmission (1) inherent in the dance activity itself and (2) associated with the “type of dance” (e.g. individual practice vs. group under 10 people vs. group over 10 people).

Dance activities can be categorized as “lower risk,” “moderate risk,” and “higher risk.”

  • Lower risk dance activities are characterized by: Greatest ability to maintain physical distance of at least six feet and/or be performed individually; and greatest ability to: (1) avoid touching of shared equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.), (2) clean and disinfect any equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all.
    • Examples: Solo work, solo teaching, and other activities with similar abilities to maintain physical distance and/or limit exposure to shared equipment prior to such equipment being cleaned and disinfected, etc.
  • Moderate risk dance activities are characterized by: Limited ability to maintain physical distance and/or be done individually; and limited ability to: (1) avoid touching of shared equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.), (2) clean and disinfect equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all.
    • Examples: Contactless dance training; duet, trio, and small group rehearsals (under 10 people); other activities with similar abilities to maintain physical distance and/or limit exposure to shared equipment prior to such equipment being cleaned and disinfected, etc.
  • Higher risk dance activities are characterized by: Least ability to maintain physical distance and/or be done individually; and least ability to: (1) avoid touching of shared equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.), (2) clean and disinfect equipment between uses by different individuals, or (3) not use shared equipment at all.
  • Examples: Contact improvisation, dance partnering, close-formation spacing, large (over 10 people) group dance training and rehearsals, and other activities with similar abilities to maintain physical distance and/or limit exposure to shared equipment prior to such equipment being cleaned and disinfected. 

The “type of dance” risk can be generally defined by the following spectrum from least to greatest risk:

  • Individual or distanced group activities (e.g. solo, duet, or trio training and rehearsals)
  • Organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups (e.g. professional dance company rehearsals, training for pods of dance students, etc.)
  • Organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups (e.g. independent rehearsals, auditions, public dance training, etc.)
  • Local performances and/or showings (e.g. any group activity like fully produced shows, informal shows, open rehearsals, practice sessions, dance battles, dance jams, socials, etc. with or without live audiences)
  • Touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings, requiring travel (e.g. regional, national, or international performance runs and tours of any group activity like fully produced shows, informal shows, open rehearsals, practice sessions, dance battles, dance jams, socials, etc. with or without live audiences).

Consider cohort, pod, or ‘bubble’-style activities (for dance companies, renters, class takers, etc.)

  • 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. Cohort models work well within large facilities (eg. studios, theaters, and/or performing arts centers) frequented by the public, at universities and educational institutions managing student bodies, etc. 
  • A COVID-19 bubble is a group of select individuals who you can interact with 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.
  • A pod is a group of select individuals who you interact with on a regular basis, typically with masks and physical distancing. It’s recommended that a pod collectively establish rules (testing requirements, no interaction with anyone outside of your pod, etc.) in order to be effective and promote safety. 

Responsible Parties may choose to implement “shifts” in which individuals sign up for designated times to train or rehearse, so as to create cohorts that remain consistent (i.e., the same set of people train or rehearse together each time).

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4. PHYSICAL DISTANCING

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance,”“Sports & Recreation Guidance,” “Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance,” “Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance,” “Media Production Guidance”, “Interim Guidance for Small and Medium Scale Performing Arts & Entertainment”, & “Office-Based Work Guidance”)

Studios, theaters, and performing arts centers can operate at 100% capacity.

Although the Key to NYC program has been lifted, venues and facilities may choose to require anyone over the age of 5 visiting these spaces to show proof of vaccination for entry.

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility.

4a. PHYSICAL DISTANCING: 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). Exercise or dance activity should always allow for at least six (6) feet of distance between individuals, with 812 feet recommended when dance activity occurs within a confined space, for maximum safety. 
  • For small and medium scale performing arts and entertainment venues:
    • In May 2021 it was designated that social gathering limits of 250 people indoors at performance venues could be exceeded if all attendees over the age of four present proof of full vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test. Indoor venue operators should use discretion for best practices, in compliance with current mandates.
  • For OUTDOOR small and medium scale performing arts and entertainment venues:
    • “Outdoor venues” are defined as an open-air space designed or used for the viewing of performing arts and live entertainment events (e.g., open-air theaters with ancillary facilities, fixed seating amphitheaters, flexible seating amphitheaters, pavilions, bandshells, grandstands), which may have a temporary or fixed cover (e.g., awning, roof) so long as such cover has at least two sides open for airflow. For a side to be open for airflow, at least 50% of the area of the side must be open whenever performances or events are being conducted or when patrons are on the premises. (Fixed doors that open and close to access the outdoor space do not  count as an area that is open for airflow.) If separate, adjacent covers have open sides that face one another, such covers must be spaced at least six feet apart.  
    • In May 2021 it was designated that social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors could be exceeded if all attendees over the age of four present proof of full vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test. Outdoor venue operators should use discretion for best practices, in compliance with current mandates.
  • 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.

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4b. PHYSICAL DISTANCING: Dance Activity best practices

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.

For a more comprehensive list of Dance Activity Best Practices, please also refer to Section 13: Dance-Specific Enhanced Safety Guidance

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.

In the event of a live performance or showing (e.g. any group activity like fully produced shows, informal shows, open rehearsals, practice sessions, dance battles, dance jams, socials, etc. with or without live audiences), the Responsible Party must:

Responsible Parties may prohibit guests/spectators on site, unless they are accompanying a youth under the age of 18, in which no more than two (2) guests/spectators are permitted, or attending a live performance/showing within space capacity allowances.

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4c. PHYSICAL DISTANCING: Enclosed Spaces

(i.e., spaces without external ventilation such as windows) – May include restrooms, elevators, locker rooms, and some studio spaces.

Responsible Parties may put in place practices for adequate physical distancing in small areas, such as locker rooms, restrooms, and break rooms, and should develop signage and systems (e.g. flagging when occupied) to restrict occupancy when physical distancing cannot be maintained in such areas. 

Responsible Parties may prohibit the use of small spaces (e.g. storage closets, equipment checkout areas) by more than one (1) individual at a time, unless all employees in such space at the same time are wearing acceptable face coverings or if employees are fully vaccinated and Responsible Party has lifted mask and physical distancing. 

Responsible Parties may implement best practices for communal bathrooms including but not limited to:

  • Closing of communal showers. Individual showers may remain open, provided that Responsible Parties ensure they are cleaned and disinfected between each user.
  • Installation of physical barriers between toilets and sinks, if six (6) feet of separation is not feasible
  • Use of touchless soap and paper towel dispensers
  • Signage promoting mask use within restrooms, as the flushing of toilets causes the COVID-19 viral load to accumulate in the air.

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5. VISITOR MANAGEMENT

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance,” “Sports & Recreation Guidance,” “Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance,” “Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance” & “Office-Based Work Guidance”)

Responsible Parties must still maintain at minimum ADA compliance within their space modifications and must publicly communicate any changes or adjustments to accessibility measures within the space. 

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility.

Responsible Parties should monitor and control the flow of traffic into the studio, theater, or performing arts center to ensure:

  • adherence to fire code and safety regulations
  • adherence to maximum capacity and physical distancing requirements, and
  • all individuals, including employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members, sign in and complete a health screening.

Responsible Parties should put in place measures to reduce bi-directional foot traffic using tape or signs with arrows in narrow aisles, hallways, or spaces, or between equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.), and post signage and distance markers denoting spaces of six (6) feet in all commonly used areas and any areas in which lines are commonly formed or people may congregate (e.g. clock in/out stations, health-screening stations, break rooms, equipment checkout areas, cash register areas, locker rooms).

 Responsible Parties should clearly designate separate entrances and exits, to the extent possible.

Responsible Parties must be prepared to queue patrons outside while still maintaining physical distance, including through the use of visual cues and/or queueing control devices (e.g. stanchions, line distance markers, arrows). 

 Responsible Parties should rearrange patron waiting areas (e.g. lines, parking areas) to maximize physical distance among other people and minimize interaction with others in the area. 

 Responsible Parties should limit on-site interactions (e.g. designate an egress(es) for individuals leaving the studio, theater, or performing arts center, and a separate ingress(es) for individuals entering) and movements (e.g. employees should remain near their workstations as often as possible).

When possible, Responsible Parties should limit the numbers of entrances in order to (1) manage the flow of traffic into the studio, theater, or performing arts center, and monitor occupancy/capacity limits and (2) facilitate sign-in and health screenings, while remaining in compliance with fire safety and other applicable regulations.

Responsible Parties should implement and encourage the use of appointments, reservations, and/or remote check-ins, particularly for rental, training, and performance operations, as a method for ensuring compliance with occupancy restrictions. 

 Responsible Parties should implement specific visit times when issuing reservation confirmations (e.g. timed entrances and exits) for patrons, dancers, teachers, and/or audience members to stagger arrivals and departures and to avoid crowding. 

Responsible Parties may choose to implement “shifts” in which individuals sign up for designated times to train or rehearse, so as to create cohorts that remain consistent (i.e., the same set of people train or rehearse together each time). See Glossary for definitions of Cohort, Pod, and Bubble.

Responsible Parties must monitor and control the flow of traffic into the facility or area to ensure adherence to maximum capacity requirements.

As much as possible, Responsible Parties should consider staggering schedules for employees and patrons, dancers, teachers, and/or audience members to encourage physical distancing for any gathering (e.g. coffee breaks, meals, booking starts/stops, performances, rehearsal, etc.).

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6. COMMUNICATION AND SIGNAGE

For a comprehensive list of Posters and Signage, please visit our Posters and Templates page.

As per the New York HERO Act, private sector employers are still required to have an Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (the “Plan”), though as of March 2022 they are no longer mandated to actively 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, and post the Plan in public view.

  • Responsible Parties may designate a site safety monitor whose responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the site safety plan.

Responsible Parties should develop a communications plan for employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members that includes applicable instructions, training, signage, and a consistent means to provide employees and patrons with information. Responsible Parties may consider developing web pages, text and email groups, and social media.

NYC allows cultural venues to determine their own policies regarding masks and vaccination. Venues and studios must clearly communicate these policies, and may post signs alerting visitors as to masking and vaccination requirements.

Responsible Parties may post signs inside and outside the studio, theater, or performing arts center, consistent with DOH COVID-19 signage. Responsible Parties can develop their own customized signage specific to a workplace or setting, provided that such signage is consistent with the Department’s signage. Signage can be used to remind patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members/others to:

  • Stay home if they are feeling sick.
  • Cover their nose and mouth with a face covering (if required by the space)
  • Appropriate use of PPE
  • Adhere to physical distancing instructions.
  • Report symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19, and how they should do so.
  • Follow hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection guidelines.
  • Follow appropriate respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Cleaning and disinfection protocols
  • Wipe down equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.) with disinfectant wipes or other sanitizing equipment before and after usage (when applicable).

Responsible Parties may post signage and distance markers denoting spaces of six (6) feet in all commonly used areas indoors for employees, and any areas in which lines are commonly formed or people may congregate (e.g. clock in/out stations, health-screening stations, break rooms, equipment checkout areas, cash register areas, locker rooms, etc.).

Responsible Parties may consider providing distance markers or taped-off areas in studios and theaters denoting spaces of at least eight (8) feet apart (10 feet preferable) for dancers engaged in dance activity (e.g. training, teaching, rehearsing, or performing).

For audience members, the following additional safety measures apply:

  • Responsible Parties should ensure audience members maintain six (6) feet of physical distance between individuals and/or family/household units
  • Responsible Parties may facilitate appropriate distancing through the use of markings on the ground or seating areas, and other signage.
  • Responsible Parties may facilitate appropriate audience gathering size through the use of signage and/or staff to ensure groups are aware of and adhere to guidelines.

For communicating to foster de-escalation and conflict resolution, consider two tips from cultural institutions for dealing with patrons who are turned away for not following their mask and vaccine rules:

  • A museum gives away free passes, inviting the patrons to come back when they can comply with the museum’s rules.
  • You can thank a patron for their understanding, and that may help disengage cordially.

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7. PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: MASKING

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance,” “Sports & Recreation Guidance,” “Media Production Guidance,” “Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance” & “Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance”)

Following a mask mandate during the winter COVID-19 Omicron surge in New York State, as of March 2, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state will end the mask requirement for schools. This policy change was echoed by Mayor Eric Adams, who announced that as of March 7, 2022, the indoor mask mandate in NYC public schools is lifted. 

This news followed the February 10, 2022 announcement from Governor Kathy Hochul that the statewide indoor mask or vaccine requirement mandate would be lifted. Businesses, local governments, and counties can choose to implement a mask mandate. 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 (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).

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 are further expected 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.

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8. HYGIENE, CLEANING & DISINFECTION

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance,” “Sports & Recreation Guidance,” “Media Production Guidance,” “Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance” & “Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance”)

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility:

Responsible Parties should ensure adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster, as applicable. Responsible Parties must maintain logs that include the date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.

Responsible Parties should place receptacles around the studio, theater, or performing arts center for disposal of soiled items, including PPE.

Responsible Parties should ensure that equipment, including dance floors, is regularly (e.g. between use by each patrons and/or employees) cleaned and disinfected using registered disinfectants. Refer to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19.

Responsible Parties may provide appropriate cleaning and disinfection supplies for shared and frequently touched surfaces and encourage employees to use these supplies, following manufacturers’ instructions, before and after use of these surfaces, followed by hand hygiene.

Responsible Parties should provide and maintain hand hygiene stations on site, as follows:

  • For handwashing: soap, running warm water, and disposable paper towels.
  • For hand sanitizing: an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Responsible Parties should make hand sanitizer available throughout the studio, theater, or performing arts center for use by employees and patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members (e.g. entrances, exits, appointment desks, in studios). Touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers should be installed where possible.
  • Responsible Parties should place signage near hand sanitizer stations indicating that visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water; hand sanitizer is not effective on visibly soiled hands.

Responsible Parties should adjust hours of operation as necessary to enable enhanced cleaning procedures, per the NYC Department of Health’s COVID-19: General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting for Non-Healthcare Settings.

Responsible Parties should ensure individuals are not sharing equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.), without cleaning and disinfection between use.

Responsible Parties may encourage patrons and dancers to bring their own personal equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, towels, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.) with their name labeled on such equipment, and refrain from handling another patron’s equipment.

  • While it is a best practice to have patrons bring their own towels, Responsible Parties may provide towels to patrons and perform laundry service, provided that they do so in accordance with CDC guidance, which includes:
    • Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest appropriate water setting, and dry items completely.
    • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry.
    • Do not shake dirty laundry.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers.
    • Remove gloves, and wash hands immediately after performing laundry services.

For media production and/or documentation of dance activity, Responsible Parties should ensure that all media production equipment and tools (e.g. cases, cameras, eyepieces, lenses, monitors and touchscreens, dollies) are regularly cleaned and disinfected using registered disinfectants. Refer to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19.

  • Responsible Parties should ensure that all props, costumes, and set materials are cleaned and disinfected between each use and stored in sealed containers between uses.
  • Responsible Parties should ensure that costumes are collected and laundered or otherwise cleaned and disinfected between each use. All clean costumes should be sealed in individual bags. Consider supplying cast members with laundry bags to securely store used costumes between cleanings.
  • Responsible Parties should refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Media Production During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” for full media production protocols

Responsible Parties should conduct regular cleaning and disinfection of the studio, theater, or performing arts center and more frequent cleaning and disinfection for high-risk areas used by many individuals and for frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning and disinfection should be rigorous and ongoing and should occur frequently throughout the hours of operations and whenever needed. Please refer to the NYC Department of Health’s COVID-19: General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting for Non-Healthcare Settings. for detailed instructions on how to clean and disinfect facilities.

  • Responsible Parties should ensure that shared equipment, including dance floors, are cleaned and disinfected by employees or patrons between every use.
  • Responsible Parties should provide appropriate cleaning and disinfection supplies for shared and frequently touched surfaces and equipment, including dance floors, and should require employees and encourage patrons to use these supplies, following manufacturers’ instructions, before and after use of these surfaces, followed by hand hygiene.
  • Responsible Parties should ensure that sufficient staff is available to “wipe down” (i.e., clean and disinfect) equipment between users, but Responsible Parties may require patrons to “wipe down” equipment before and/or after each use.

Responsible Parties must ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of restrooms. Restrooms must be cleaned and disinfected at least every two (2) hours, or more often depending on frequency of use.

Responsible Parties should ensure that shared workstations (e.g. check-in desks) are cleaned and disinfected between use by different employees.

Responsible Parties must provide for the cleaning and disinfection of exposed areas in the event an individual is confirmed to have a positive case of COVID-19, with such cleaning and disinfection to include, at a minimum, all heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g. equipment–including dance floors, handrails, check-in desks).

CDC guidelines on “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility” if someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Close off areas used by the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
    • Responsible Parties do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off the affected areas.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait as long as possible (at least several hours) before cleaning and disinfecting..
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, such as bathrooms, common areas, and shared equipment.
  • Once the area has been appropriately cleaned and disinfected, it can be reopened for use.
  • If more than three (3) days have passed since the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 visited or used the studio, theater, or performing arts center, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary, but routine cleaning and disinfection should continue.

For activities involving the handling of shared objects (e.g. payment devices), areas (e.g. pick-up area), and/or surfaces (e.g. doors), Responsible Parties should ensure that such areas and objects are cleaned and disinfected daily, at a minimum.

Responsible Parties may choose to prohibit shared food and beverages among employees (e.g. self-serve meals and beverages), encourage employees to bring lunch from home, and reserve adequate space for employees to observe physical distancing while eating meals

Responsible Parties should follow the following protocol for cleaning and disinfecting floors:

  • Most vinyl dance flooring cannot be cleaned with bleach solutions. Ammonia-based or PH-neutral cleaners that are generally used do not disinfect properly for COVID-19.
    • It is recommended that once a day the floors should be cleaned as usual, followed by cleaning with 90+ alcohol in a sprayer to spread the solution. The mop pad should be washed with bleach in the washing machine between uses. 
    • Disinfecting the floors with this alcohol solution should ideally happen prior to every class or rehearsal. 
      • Other CDC floor cleaners approved to kill COVID-19 include the following:
  • Harlequin approved disinfectant (Marley) (EPA# 10324-167)
  • Stage Step: ProClean D Plus (Marley) (EPA#1839-95)
  • BONA: STA Disinfecting Cleaner (Wood) (EPA# 91861-2)
  • If cleaning or disinfection products or the act of cleaning and disinfection causes safety hazards or degrades the material or equipment, including dance floors, Responsible Parties may choose to forgo use of these products, and implement other safety measures in their stead (for example, provide hand hygiene stations; space out groups using the equipment; etc.)

For office-based or non-dance related work in studios, theaters, performing arts centers:

  • Responsible Parties should consider implementing strict clean-desk policies, so that non-essential items are stored in enclosed cabinets or drawers rather than on desks.
  • Responsible Parties should limit the use of shared workstations (e.g. “hot-desks”) to the extent practicable. To the extent that such workstations remain in use, they must be cleaned and disinfected between users.

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8a. HYGIENE, CLEANING & DISINFECTION: Air Handling Systems

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance”)

For facilities with central air handling systems, Responsible Parties must ensure central HVAC system filtration meets the highest rated filtration compatible with the currently installed filter rack and air handling systems, at a minimum MERV-13, or industry equivalent or greater (e.g. HEPA), as applicable, and as certified and documented by a certified HVAC technician, professional, or company, ASHRAE-certified professional, certified retro-commissioning professional, or New York-licensed professional building engineer.

Responsible Parties may also consider adopting additional ventilation and air filtration mitigation protocols per CDC and ASHRAE recommendations, particularly for buildings older than 15 years, including the following:

  • Perform necessary retro-commissioning of central systems, as well as testing, balancing, and repairs as needed.
  • Increase ventilation rates and outdoor air ventilation to the extent possible.
  • Keep systems running for longer hours, especially for several hours daily before and after occupancy.
  • Disable demand-controlled ventilation, where reasonable, and maintain systems that increase fresh air supply.
  • Open outdoor air dampers to reduce or eliminate recirculation to the extent possible. 
  • Seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
  • Regularly inspect systems and filters to ensure they are properly operating, and that filters are appropriately installed, serviced and within service life.
  • Open windows to the extent allowable for occupant safety and comfort.
  • Install appropriately designed and deployed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to deactivate airborne virus particles.
  • Use portable air cleaners (e.g. electric HEPA units), considering units that provide highest air change rate at appropriate performance level and do not generate harmful byproducts.

Responsible Parties with facilities that do not have central air handling systems, or do not operate or otherwise control the systems, may consider adopting additional ventilation and air filtration mitigation protocols per CDC and ASHRAE recommendations, including the following:

  • Deploy appropriate portable air cleaners (e.g. electric HEPA units), considering units that provide highest air change rate at appropriate performance level and do not generate harmful byproducts.
  • Regularly inspect any room ventilation systems (e.g. window units) to ensure they are properly operating, and filters are appropriately installed, serviced, and within service life.
  • Keep any room ventilation systems running for longer hours, especially for several hours daily before and after occupancy.
  • Set room ventilation systems to maximize fresh air intake, set blower fans to low speed and to point away from occupants to the extent possible.
  • Open windows to the extent allowable for occupant safety and comfort. 
  • Set any ceiling fans to draw air upwards away from occupants, if applicable. 
  • Prioritize window fans to exhaust indoor air where possible. 
  • Avoid using fans that only recirculate air or only blow air into a room without providing for appropriate exhaust. 
  • Install appropriately designed and deployed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to deactivate airborne virus particles.
  • Consider the use of a Box Fan Filter System. 

For facilities with central air handling systems that cannot handle the above mentioned minimum level of filtration (i.e., MERV-13 or greater), Responsible Parties must have a certified HVAC technician, professional, or company, ASHRAE-certified professional, certified retro-commissioning professional, or New York-licensed professional building engineer certify and document that the currently installed filter rack and air handling system would be unable to perform to the minimum level of heating and cooling that it was otherwise able to provide prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency if such a high degree of filtration (i.e., MERV-13 or greater) was installed. Further, Responsible Parties must retain such documentation for review by state or local health department officials to operate at a lesser filtration rating, of ideally MERV-11 or MERV-12, with additional ventilation and air filtration mitigation protocols. 

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9. RETURN-TO-OFFICE GUIDANCE

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Office-Based Work Guidance”)

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility.

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 see 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.

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10. COMMERCE

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility.

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 should minimize the handling of cash, credit cards, membership cards, and mobile devices, where possible.

  • Walk-in reservations and/or ticket purchases of any kind should be discouraged or limited.
  • All touchless check-in and payment options should reiterate the facility’s protocols, disclaimers, and specific instructions around arrival times, on-site activity, etc.
  • Reduce the need for Will Call or Box Office by providing and accepting digital tickets and/or making self check-in stations available within the facility.
  • Limit distribution of  paper playbills or programs; instead make this information available digitally.

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.

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11. VACCINES

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 Key to NYC Pass program (original date of effect August 16, 2021) to maximize health and safety in their spaces. This program required that, as of January 29, 2022, all 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.

Key to NYC Workplace Vaccination Requirement: All private-sector employers in NYC must see proof of employees’ first dose by December 27th, 2021 and proof of a second dose by Thursday, February 10th, 2022 (unless the employee got the single-shot Johnson & Johnson). 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:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/

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12. SCREENING, TESTING, AND TRACKING

(Adapted from NYS DOH’s “Gyms & Fitness Centers Guidance,” “Sports & Recreation Guidance,” “Low-Risk Indoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance,” & “Low-Risk Outdoor Arts & Entertainment Guidance”)

12a. SCREENING

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility.

Responsible Parties may implement mandatory daily health screening practices for employees, patrons, performers/talent, and, where practicable, contractors and vendors.

  • Screening practices may be performed remotely (e.g. by telephone or electronic survey) before individuals report to the studio, theater, or performing arts center, to the extent possible, or may be performed on site.
  • Screening should be coordinated to prevent individuals from intermingling in close or proximate contact with each other prior to completion of the screening.
  • Accessibility should be taken into account when screening persons with disabilities (e.g. deaf patrons who read lips may require screening from staff wearing a clear face covering or one with a transparent window over their mouth).
  • At a minimum, screening must be required of all employees, patrons, and, where practicable, contractors and vendors, and must be completed using a questionnaire that determines whether the individual has:
    • (a) knowingly been in close contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19
    • (b) tested positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test in the past 14 days, 
    • (c) experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and 
    • (d) traveled internationally or within a state with significant community spread of COVID-19 for longer than 24 hours within the past 14 days.
  • All employees, patrons, contracts, and vendors who complete a questionnaire must provide contact information (name; address; email address and/or phone number) for the purpose of contact tracing and notification.
  • Responsible Parties may maintain a record of the aforementioned sign-in data for a predetermined period of time (e.g., 28 days) and make such data available to state and local health departments upon request.

Refer to CDC guidance on “Symptoms of COVID-19” for the most up to date information on symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Screening practices may include the following:

  • If space and building configuration allows, screen individuals at or near the building entrance to minimize the impact in case of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Allow for adequate physical distancing while individuals queue for screening and/or building entry.
  • Admit only individuals who have been screened either remotely or upon arrival.
  • If temperature checks are performed, use contactless thermal cameras in building entrances to identify potentially symptomatic individuals and direct them to a secondary screening area to complete a follow-up screening. If not possible or feasible, a temperature check may be performed using contactless thermometers.

Responsible Parties may choose to designate a central point of contact, which may vary by activity, location, shift, or day, responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all questionnaires, with such contact also identified as the party for individuals to inform if they later are experiencing COVID-19- related symptoms, as noted on the questionnaire.

  • Identified point of contact for the studio, theater, or performing arts center should be prepared to receive notifications from individuals of positive cases and initiate the respective cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Responsible Parties must require employees to immediately disclose if and when their responses to any of the aforementioned screening questions changes, such as if they begin to experience symptoms, including during or outside of work hours.

In addition to the screening questionnaire, temperature checks may also be conducted per Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or DOH guidelines. Responsible Parties are prohibited from keeping records of employee health data (e.g. the specific temperature data of an individual), but are permitted to maintain records that confirm individuals were screened and the result of such screening (e.g. pass/fail, cleared/not cleared).

Responsible Parties must ensure that any personnel performing screening activities, including temperature checks, are appropriately protected from exposure to potentially infectious individuals entering the studio, theater, or performing arts center. Personnel performing screening activities should be trained by employer-identified individuals who are familiar with CDC, DOH, and OSHA protocols. 

Screeners should be provided and use PPE, including at a minimum, an acceptable face covering or mask, and may include gloves, a gown, and/or a face shield. Bandanas, buffs, masks with vents, or gaiters are not acceptable face coverings for dancers’ use in studios, theaters, or performing arts centers.

An individual who screens positive for COVID-19 symptoms must not be allowed to enter the facility, and employees who screen positive must be sent home with instructions to contact their healthcare provider for assessment and testing.

  • Responsible Parties should remotely provide the employee with information on healthcare and testing resources.

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12b. TESTING

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. 

Responsible Parties may offer to perform FDA-authorized antigen (rapid) testing for individuals on the premises prior to a performance/event.

Be aware of and communicate these current requirements for international travel:

  • President Biden recently announced that starting the week of December 6, all inbound international travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within the 24 hours prior to departure (this one-day rule takes the place of the previous 72-hour-advance regulation). Either a rapid antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (like a PCR test) will be accepted. Learn more via the CDC about what types of Covid-19 tests are acceptable under this order.
  • 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.
      • Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel.
    • 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.
      • Before boarding a flight to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 1 day before travel. 
  • 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.

Responsible Parties should refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure regarding protocols and policies for employees seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the employee had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

CDC Recommendations for People with COVID-19 and COVID-19 Close Contacts:

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.

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12c. TRACKING

The following are recommended BEST PRACTICES for additional safety and accessibility:

  • Responsible Parties may notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test result by an individual at their studio, theater, or performing arts center.
  • In the case of an individual testing positive on site, the Responsible Parties should trace all contacts in the studio, theater, or performing arts center and notify all individuals who entered the studio, theater, or performing arts center dating back 48 hours before the individual first experienced COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive, whichever is earlier. Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state law and regulations.
    • In the case of an individual showing symptoms while in the studio, theater, or performing arts center, Responsible Parties must notify employees in the surrounding areas or who may have been affected immediately with information on where the individual has been throughout the studio, theater, or performing arts center and notify them if the symptomatic person tests positive.
  • Employees who are alerted that they have come into close contact with a person with COVID-19, and have been alerted via tracing, tracking or other mechanism, are required to self-report to their employer at the time of alert and shall follow the protocol referenced above.
  • State and local health departments may, under their legal authority, implement monitoring and movement restrictions of infected or exposed persons including home isolation or quarantine. 

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13. DANCE-SPECIFIC ENHANCED SAFETY GUIDANCE

The following are Enhanced Best Practices for dance-specific settings. These enhanced guidelines can apply to Dance Classes, Rehearsals, Performances, Studios, and other Dance and Performance-related Activities.

Physical Distancing:

  • Consider limiting higher-risk activities where physical contact cannot be continuously avoided (e.g. contact improvisation, dance partnering, close formation spacing, etc.), either entirely, or only to fully vaccinated and masked individuals.
  • Demarcate physical arrangements within the space to ensure physical distance is maintained (e.g. floor taping).
  • Consider conducting activities outdoors, to the extent possible (refer to the NYC Open Culture Roadmap: Tips for Successful Performance in the Street).
  • Stagger studio/theater occupancy times with enough time between each user for air to recirculate. Consider an interim cleaning and air circulation period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Use appointments, reservations, remote check-ins, and/or advance sign-ups for the activity and space. 
    • Remind dancers to reserve their class and rehearsal times in advance and clarify a set arrival time (e.g. 10-15 minutes prior to start time) to reduce on-site lingering.
    • Implement sign-up policies so dancers can train and rehearse during consistent, specific times to encourage cohorting.
  • Consider closing locker rooms to discourage commingling pre- and post- class, rehearsal, and/or performance activities.
  • Create a space for renters/dancers/performers to place bags so that physical distancing can be maintained among belongings. These areas need to be cleaned after each dancer removes their bag.
  • Develop hybrid (remote and in-person) models of dance activity to further promote limited on-site engagement and access opportunities for those who do not feel safe returning on site.

Hygiene, Cleaning and Disinfection:

  • Provide hand sanitizer immediately upon arrival. 
  • Discourage sharing of equipment (including, but not limited to, barres, sound systems, dance floor, mats, media/live-stream equipment, poles, chairs, tables, props, musical instruments, microphones, etc.) among patrons/dancers, unless it is able to be cleaned and disinfected between use.
    • Encourage dancers and visitors/renters to bring and use their own equipment (e.g. mats).
    • Responsible Parties (e.g. Dance Teachers; Renters; Dancers; etc.) must clean and disinfect any shared equipment in between use.
  • Be wary of shoes in the space, as shoes and other ground-touching equipment can be a transmitter of disease.
    • Street shoes should be removed prior to entering any studios, theaters, or performing arts center spaces.
    • Dance shoes should not be worn outside the studio. 
    • Studios with wheelchair users should have dance floors cleaned after use, i.e., prior to use by another party.

Choreographers and Directors:

  • Alter choreography, whenever possible, to avoid physical contact, close spacing, floorwork, and traveling across the floor. If floorwork is necessary, notify the studio, theater, or performing arts center to ensure that they have adequate time to clean and disinfect the floor before and after use.
  • Choreograph for and set choreography on double, small casts to promote small-cohort rehearsing and security, should a dancer get sick.
  • Limit the number of participants in dance classes and rehearsals (e.g. any group activity like practice sessions, dance battles, dance jams, socials, etc. with or without live audiences) so that adequate physical distancing can be maintained.

Returning to Dance Activity:

  • Require that dancers/audience members/performers/teachers/administrators/others wear acceptable face coverings at all times.
  • Normal breathing should be encouraged while dancing in masks, as opposed to forced breath cues, which can spread larger droplets further distances.
  • When restarting any dance activity or process, phase in dance activity to rebuild strength, endurance, and comfort with safety measures (e.g. dancing in masks) before reintroducing complex skills and training.
  • Lower the intensity of the dance activities to promote normal breathing. Higher breathing rates may necessitate more than eight (8) feet between dancers. 

Dance Teachers:

  • Create a dedicated teaching zone (e.g. a taped-off box, circle or x) with a perimeter of eight to ten (8-10) feet between the dance teacher and any other individual in the space.
  • Reduce music volume or consider using voice amplification and/or microphones during classes so that teachers can be heard without speaking at higher volumes, therefore lessening droplet spread. This also opens up access for neurodivergence and sensory processing differences in classes.
    • microphones should be used by only one person at a time and should be disinfected between uses.
  • Open windows and doors of the studio/theater to maximize improved air circulation.
  • Use free-standing barres when possible, or tape off eight (8) feet (10 feet preferable) of distance on installed barres in the studio/theater.
  • Discourage employees and patrons/dancers/teachers from hand-to hand contact, unless it is part of the dance activity (e.g. handshakes, high-fives, fist bumps, hugs), and discourage hands-on adjustments in dance classes and rehearsals, unless necessary to mitigate a health or safety risk.

For dance training or teaching working with children under the age of 18, Responsible Parties may: 

  • Limit participation to students ages 5 years and older (i.e., students who are able to be vaccinated)
  • Build in break time within the class as an ongoing practice.
  • Provide each student a consistent “spot” in class (e.g. barre location or area of the floor within the space). 

Guidance for live music:

  • Incorporate the use of live musicians only when consistent space assignments, regular cleaning of instruments and/or sound equipment, and low music volume is possible. – Visit the FAQ’s for COVID-19 Reopening in NYC: Group Music Activities for more information;
  • Live musicians should be assigned to a consistent studio whenever possible. 
  • Clean shared instruments between users.
  • Consider reducing or barring the practice of singing, brass, or wind instruments (which cannot be played while masked).

For media production and/or documentation of dance activity, Responsible Parties may:

  • Encourage the use of dedicated work zones within the facility or location, and establish a system that prevents overlapping the media teams and other patrons/dancers/teacher/audience members not directly involved in the shoot.
    • Limit in-person presence to only those staff who are necessary for relevant media production activities.
  • Take social distancing requirements into account when scouting or choosing media production locations.
    • Ensure that locations can be secured completely from the general public.
    • Ensure that locations allow for enough space to adhere to social distancing requirements for all work areas and departments.
    • Be able to meet appropriate cleaning and disinfection and hygiene standards.
  • Consider a color-coded system or other visible indicators to facilitate identification of zones and appropriate employees, cast, and crew.
  • Consider having dancers, including any extras, arrive “camera ready,” to the extent possible (e.g. having completed hair, makeup, and wardrobe off site or through remote instruction).
  • Ensure that all employees, cast, and crew in close proximity to dancers without face coverings (e.g. hair stylists, make-up artists, costume designers, sound technicians, studio teachers, stunt coordinators, special effects technicians) wear both an acceptable face covering and eye protection, such as a face shield or goggles, for the duration of the activity requiring proximity. All employees, cast, and crew should also wear gloves and/or practice hand hygiene before and after such activities.
  • Where possible, consider taking measures to reduce close or proximate contact between dancers, such as amending scripts or using digital effects where possible. Limit scenes with prolonged close or proximate contact between individuals (e.g. near-contact dancing). 
  • Refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Media Production During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” for full media production protocols.

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14. LEARN MORE: DANCE FIELD SCENARIOS

It is important to note that no state guidance is or will ever be able to speak to the nuances of an industry at large. To proactively address this reality and further support Responsible Parties’ Operator/Employer plans, various scenarios were considered to create Dance Field Scenarios.

The Dance Field Scenarios offer additional considerations and recommendations above and beyond the Standard Recommendations. These Dance Field Scenarios were borne from the resources, questions, dialogue, and feedback shared by the field and advisors. They consider both indoor and outdoor activity and offer greater specificity, suggestions, and examples.

The Dance Field Scenarios cover the following scenarios, one or many of which may be applicable to you:

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15. CONSOLIDATED RESOURCES

For a comprehensive list of Resources, please visit the Resources Page of this website. 

General Information

Workplace Guidance

Personal Protective Equipment Guidance

Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidance 

Screening and Testing Guidance

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