SIOUX EMPIRE COMMUNITY THEATRE SAFETY GUIDE REGARDING COVID-19
SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
While our doors have remained closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sioux Empire Community Theatre’s (SECT) thoughts have been with our employees, volunteers, students and guests. As we look toward the future, we have set our sights on creating a plan that will allow us to reopen to the community in a safe and responsible way. Our Safety Guide contains the guidelines that we recommend in order to keep each employee, volunteer, and guest safe and healthy.
There is no “perfect” or outlined way to proceed in a pandemic such as this one, but we have drawn upon the guidelines suggested by local, state, and federal agencies, experts, and associations. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By entering the facilities rented or owned by SECT, employees and guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. SECT remains committed to monitoring the current recommendations, guidelines, and restrictions to which we are subject; as such, everything in this safety guide is subject to change based on local, state, and federal regulations and recommendations. In this safety guide, the use of the term “employees” refers to 1099 contractors and W2 employees. SECT will put forth its best efforts to encourage compliance with the guidelines outlined in this document. We remain committed to delivering the full theatrical experience to all ages in the Sioux Falls metro area by developing the talents of local professional and emerging artists in an inclusive, compassionate, and educational environment in a safe and responsible way as we do what we can in striving to protect our employees and guests from inadvertent exposure. With regards to SECT employees: Please note that neither this plan, nor any other plan or policy of SECT, constitutes a contract of employment or creates any specific contractual right or obligation between SECT and its employees or any individual employee. SECT must be able to respond flexibly to changing circumstances as they arise, and for this reason, this plan does not promise specific treatment in specific situations. The guidelines contained in this plan are subject to changes and exceptions without prior notice, at SECT’s discretion. All decisions regarding the application or interpretation of this plan are also in SECT’s discretion.
GENERAL COVID-19 POLICIES
GENERAL EMPLOYEE PRACTICES (should be recommended for Pavilion staff/volunteers/ushers as well)
All employees are encouraged to put the following guidelines into practice, both while at work and in their day-to-day lives:
- HAND WASHING. When available, employees will wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When this is not an option, employees will use sanitizer containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Employees should also wash their hands at the beginning and end of each shift and break, after using the restroom, sneezing, touching their face, blowing their nose, cleaning, sweeping, mopping, smoking, eating, or drinking.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING. Whenever possible, employees should leave at least 6 feet between them and the person closest to them. When this is not possible due to the task being performed, employees should limit close proximity to the same personnel day-to-day to create a “work group.”
- FACE COVERINGS. Employees should wear physical respiratory protection, such as cloth face masks, whenever possible. When handling face coverings employees should observe the following:
▪ Wash your hands before putting on a face covering.
▪ Put the same side against your face each time to avoid wearing the “contaminated side” against your nose and mouth.
▪ Remove your face covering using the straps to avoid touching the part that protects your face.
▪ Wash face coverings frequently (preferably after each use).
- OTHER PRACTICES. Employees should avoid touching their face, especially their eyes, nose, and mouth, whenever possible. Microphones, headphones, and other personal equipment should be cleaned and sanitized before and after each use. Employees should also cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, or elbow/shoulder if no tissue is available, followed by thorough hand washing or hand-sanitizer. It should be common practice to avoid close contact with people who are sick (COVID-19 or not), stay home when sick, and clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
PRACTICES FOR SICK EMPLOYEES (should be recommended for Pavilion staff/volunteers/ushers as well)
Employees must stay home from work if they have symptoms of acute respiratory illness consistent with COVID-19, including fever, cough, chills, sudden loss of taste or smell, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or shortness of breath. If an employee is excluded from SECT premises pursuant to this plan, they must report it to their supervisor(s).
- QUARANTINE POLICY. If any one or more of the following occurrences is true of any employee, they will be immediately be excluded from SECT premises and work environments and should self-quarantine immediately:
- The employee tests positive for COVID-19.
- The employee learns that the employee has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- The employee has been asked to self-quarantine by any hospital, health agency, or medical professional.
- SYMPTOMATIC EMPLOYEES. If an employee exhibits symptoms of acute respiratory illness upon arrival to work or becomes sick during the workday, they must separate themselves from volunteers, guests and other employees and go home immediately.
- DOCUMENTATION. If symptoms occur on site, the supervisor should document the circumstances of the employee’s illness and workday to help with contact tracing, as applicable.
- CONTACT WITH SYMPTOMATIC INDIVIDUALS. Anyone who has been in close contact with a person known to have had the virus, or whose family or friends show signs of exposure, should closely monitor themselves for potential COVID-19 symptoms.
- RETURNING TO WORK. Employees with any symptoms of acute respiratory illness associated with COVID-19 or who have experienced one of the occurrences listed above in “Quarantine Policy” may return to work only if the employee provides reliable proof that a physician has determined that they should be released from quarantine or need not be quarantined and may return to work.
RESPONDING TO CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19
In the event that an employee is confirmed to be currently infected with COVID-19, the following actions will be taken:
- Determine what areas of the venue were visited, used, or impacted by the infected employee. Identify if employees need to be removed from the area and if the area requires sanitization.
- Assess whether the employee’s role put them within 6 feet of volunteers, guests or other employees. Assess whether the employee’s duties create specific transmission risks such as food handling, ticket checking, quick changes, etc.
- Notify the ‘impacted employees’ that they may have had contact with an infected coworker (without identifying such person for privacy reasons) and encourage them to monitor their health for any symptoms and if symptoms appear they should contact a medical professional and/or test for COVID-19.
- Any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 should remain in home isolation until the employee provides reliable proof that a physician has determined that they should be released from quarantine or need not be quarantined and may return to work.
- During home isolation, the affected employee may work remotely to the extent possible but will not be expected to do so. Please note that we may allow remote work for a temporary period due to the extraordinary situation in the workplace caused by the coronavirus. You might not be able to perform all of your job’s essential functions during this temporary period while working remotely.
- Impacted employees who have been in close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, but who are not presently symptomatic or suffering a fever greater than 100.4F, should closely monitor themselves for potential COVID-19 symptoms and follow the advice of their physician regarding getting tested.
AUDITIONS, REHEARSAL & STAGING POLICIES
GENERAL REHEARSAL PRACTICES
All volunteers will abide by the policies addressed in Section 1: General COVID-19 Policies. Any volunteer who has a temperature above 100.4F or symptoms of COVID19 will not be permitted into rehearsal spaces. All volunteers must observe all practices listed in ‘General Employee Practices’ in section 1, while in rehearsal spaces.
- HAND WASHING. Volunteers will be required to wash or sanitize their hands upon arrival to the rehearsal hall or theatre and before they leave, as well as wash or sanitize their hands during each break.
- FACE COVERINGS. Volunteers should wear physical respiratory protection, such as cloth face masks or face shields, whenever possible.
Each production will be assigned a rehearsal space, which will include a separate entrance and a separate restroom space. Volunteers working on a specific production will be assigned specific spaces and should remain in only those areas of the building until the production moves to the stage. No one will be allowed in a rehearsal room unless they are in the scene or invited by the director, stage manager, or artistic director
Face coverings will be required of the casting team, volunteers and auditioners while waiting. Casting team will distance six feet at the front of the room. Those auditioning will be required to wear masks and/or face shields while waiting for their auditions and chairs distanced six feet apart will be set up for them in the waiting room. Auditions will be performed individually. Masks may be removed during the audition only if the person auditioning can remain at least 12 feet away from the casting team. Those auditioning will reserve a time online and will be encouraged to fill out their audition application online so as to minimize their time in the facility. The team in charge of auditioning will create a flow from lobby to waiting room to audition room that maintains six feet of distance at all times. An employee or volunteer at the audition table will record in and out times of those auditioning in the event contact tracing is needed.
It is recommended that most parts are double cast. A socially distanced house means there will be more performances added on to the run and both casts will have an opportunity to perform their parts. This will also allow the cast to mitigate for anyone in the cast who may be required to quarantine and not be available for performances.
The following policy will be in effect regarding staging while in rehearsal:
- Only actors scheduled for a given rehearsal will be permitted to enter the rehearsal room.
- Actors are asked to arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before their call. Those who arrive earlier than 10 minutes prior could be asked to wait in their vehicles, outside the building, or the lobby area maintaining appropriate distances.
- Seats will be assigned to each actor for day-to-day use in the rehearsal room.
- All performances will be staged presentationally. This means musicals will be performed like a concert; singing to the audience and not toward fellow actors if it can be helped. Staged radio plays are already presentational in nature.
REHEARSAL SPACE SANITIZATION
The rehearsal space will be frequently sanitized in accordance to the guidelines in Section 1. Checklists for rehearsal space sanitization will be provided and should be completed at the end of each rehearsal. These checklists will include but are not limited to:
- daily disinfection of rehearsal props and office supplies,
- Actors will be asked to sanitize the props and rehearsal costumes pieces that they use.
BACKSTAGE AND RUN OF SHOW POLICIES
Under the direction of the executive director, production staff shall oversee the implementation and adherence to all guidelines in all production departments and daily operations to promote a safe work environment.
GENERAL RUN OF SHOW POLICIES
- All current local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions should be observed by all employees at all times. SECT’S safety guidelines will be posted on our website, in the Stage Door Lobby area, on call boards, and other areas around the building. Personal copies will be provided upon request.
- Upon arriving at the theatre each day, a production staff member will sign each volunteer in and verify that each person has a mask. Social distancing should be observed in the entrance area for the performance space.
- All volunteers will be required to wash their hands with soap and water or sanitize their hands when they arrive at the theatre, before the show, at intermission, and after the show, as well as sanitize their hands frequently
- All volunteers should wear a face covering at all times inside the building.
- Shared items between actors should be sanitized between performances/uses.
- Social distancing should be observed in all backstage areas, where and when possible.
- While in backstage areas, all personnel should attempt to interact only with those associated with their assigned show tracks.
- Backstage traffic patterns will remain consistent. Tracks will be set in a way to minimize exposure.
- Xs marked with tape will note where it is safe to stand six feet apart
- Hand sanitizing stations will be positioned backstage as well as multiple places throughout the building.
- All volunteers will be required to check show specific call boards for any notes related to their production, as a greenroom will not be held. Stage management will give individual and safety notes in person as necessary.
- Volunteers will wipe down restroom surfaces after use.
- Only performing cast and volunteers assigned to the production will be allowed backstage.
- All tools, machinery, work surfaces, equipment, etc. should be disinfected before and after each use.
- Sanitization checklists will be completed each day for every performance under the supervision of stage management.
- Until further notice, for the health and safety of our volunteers, SECT will not provide meals between performances or during tech.
- All actors will adhere to the general run of show policies as outlined above.
- When possible, actors will be spaced to allow ample room between each other in dressing rooms.
- Each actor’s station will be sanitized at the end of each performance day or anytime there is a switch between actors.
- Each actor is responsible for returning their props to their designated areas, unless stage management approves a hand off to a crew member.
- Actors are to use their assigned restroom.
- Ad-hoc dressing rooms may be built out of pipe and drape in the right and left Orpheum Theatre wings.
- Actors may not share makeup
STAGE CREW (TECHNICIANS)
- All stage crew will adhere to the general run of show policies as outlined above.
- Each track should be consistent throughout the run, including which set a technician moves and the maneuver points that are used. Maneuver points should be sanitized between performances.
- Props should be sanitized daily according to the sanitation checklist. Some props will need to be sanitized during the show if the prop is used between multiple actors.
- Each actor is responsible for returning their props to their designated areas, unless stage management approves a hand off to a crew member.
- Stage Crew may be asked to assist in sanitizing and cleaning the house and backstage areas between performances.
- It is recommended that crew sizes are increased and roles are doubled up. This will also allow the crew to mitigate for anyone in the crew who may be required to quarantine and not make a performance.
- All dressers will adhere to the general run of show policies as outlined above.
- Hands should be washed or sanitized between each quick change.
- Where possible, all costume changes should be spaced 6 feet apart.
- Dressing spaces backstage will be cleaned and sanitized between each performance.
- There will be designated locations backstage for actors and dressers to wait for their next entrance/costume change. Please observe social distancing in these areas.
- Dressers should limit entry into dressing rooms as much as possible while actors are occupying the room. Presets should be complete, when possible, before actor call time.
- Actors will apply their own makeup
- SHOP OPERATION. Social distancing will be observed within the shop. Face masks will be worn when possible in the shop. Hand washing and sanitizing should occur throughout the day. No shop personnel should come into contact with actors, unless designated. Workstations will be sanitized at the end of each workday.
- COSTUME FITTINGS. Fittings will occur one show at a time with a maximum of 2 fittings being performed in the same room at the same time. Limited personnel will be allowed in each fitting. All personnel must wash their hands before the fitting begins and wear a mask at all times, unless it interferes with fitting a facial piece. Each dressing booth should be sanitized between fittings.
- SHOP OPERATION. Social distancing will be observed within the shop. Hand washing and sanitizing should occur throughout the day No shop personnel should come into contact with actors, unless designated. Workstations will be sanitized at the end of each workday.
VOLUNTEER AND STAFF GUIDELINES
All volunteers and staff abide by the policies addressed in Section 1: General COVID-19 Policies. Any volunteer who has a temperature above 100.4F or symptoms of COVID19 will not be permitted into rehearsal spaces. All volunteers must observe all practices listed in ‘General Employee Practices’ in section 1, while in rehearsal spaces.
Administrative staff will be at the ready to cover the duties of other administrative staff. If the production manager is quarantined or ill and can’t cover his/her duties, the Executive Director will cover those duties. If the Executive Director is quarantined or ill, the production manager will cover any necessary Executive Director duties.
- HAND WASHING. Volunteers and staff will be required to wash or sanitize their hands upon arrival to the rehearsal hall or theatre and before they leave, as well as wash or sanitize their hands during each break.
- FACE COVERINGS. Volunteers and staff should wear physical respiratory protection, such as cloth face masks or face shields, whenever possible. After receiving approval from stage management, volunteers may remove their masks to properly run the scene that is rehearsing but must immediately replace their mask after the scene has completed. Volunteers and staff are asked to remain in the specific areas of the building required to work on a project. Administrative volunteers will be notified of which restroom they should use and how to clean the restroom after each use. Hand washing and sanitizing should occur throughout the day Social distancing will be practiced at all times where possible. Workstations will be sanitized at the end of each workday.
GUEST SERVICE POLICIES (some recommendations for Pavilion staff, volunteers, ushers)
- Guests are required to wear face coverings, such as masks or face shields, and socially distance between groups and parties as much as possible while on the premises.
- Guests and/or family members of actors/technicians will not be allowed backstage or other restricted areas for any reason. Guests and family members are encouraged to greet each other outside of the theatre if they insist as ushers will be encouraging guests to leave immediately.
- Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the lobbies for public use.
- Guests will be encouraged to make purchases with a credit or debit card, allowing the guest to swipe or insert their own card as needed.
- If guests find they are having symptoms of COVID-19 such as a temperature of 100.4F or higher or other symptoms, either before or during a performance, they are asked to exchange their tickets for a later performance.
- All guests who attend productions at SECT will have reservations with contact information retained in the ticket office to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
- Programs will be accessed digitally.
- Guests will be encouraged to prepared to seat immediately. IE, have ticket purchased and presentable.
- Guests will be permitted to sit with their party up to a number determined possible by the ushers/ticketing.
- Preshow talk for each performance will encourage guests to keep their face coverings on during the length of the show.
- Lighting for the preshow talk will be 50% of entrance lighting, bright enough for the audience to continue seating and the concessions to conduct business.
- The preshow talk presenter will have a microphone to able to be heard.
There will be no intermission at this time to reduce congregating and lines.
If the Pavilion cannot meet our requirements for ushers as listed below, SECT will provide volunteer ushers who can follow the above guidelines and can meet the necessary requirements SECT feels front of house/guest services needs to make the environment as safe as possible.
RECOMMENDED COMMUNICATIONS TO GUESTS BEFORE THEY ARRIVE
- Please do not come if you are feeling unwell or have been unwell in the past 14 days, have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, or are awaiting a COVID-19 test result. We will refund your ticket order or transfer it to another date.
- Face coverings are required at all times for all guests, volunteers, and staff.
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed. Volunteers and staff will indicate public pathways designed to minimize interactions between guests in the lobbies and auditorium.
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is readily available throughout public areas.
- In emails to our audience, suggest (in a fun and proper way) to use the bathroom before arriving. Though bathrooms will NOT be closed and they WILL be available.
- Tickets can be exchanged or refunded if guests are feeling unwell or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
- If the city or state cancels a show, the ticket can be exchanged for a future show or the cost of the ticket will be considered a donation to Sioux Empire Community Theatre
- To purchase tickets online before the show curtain
- An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By entering SECT’S facilities, guests, volunteers, and staff voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PAVILION STAFF, VOLUNTEERS, USHERS (these are policies that are not enforceable by SECT but reflect upon SECT if there is a COVID breakout)
- SANITIZING HIGH-TOUCH AREAS. High-touch areas around the theatre will be cleaned and/or sanitized daily according to a sanitization checklist.
- CLEANING AND DISINFECTING. Cleaning removes dirt and impurities from surfaces and objects and may lower germ counts by removing them, not killing them. Disinfecting reduces and kills germs on surfaces and objects. Because disinfecting does not necessarily clean the surface, cleaning and disinfecting are both essential.
o Technique. Clean areas and surfaces by using water and soap or cleaning solution to remove dirt and impurities. Disinfecting areas requires using materials effective against COVID-19.
▪ Special Materials. Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions for sanitization of technical and production materials such as microphones.
Gloves/Disposal. While sanitizing, it may be recommended to wear gloves as a personal protection. Place gloves and other disposable items used for cleaning and disinfecting in a bag that can be tied and disposed
- DOCUMENTATION. employees should ensure that all sanitization protocols have been completed and recorded for future reference via daily checklists. Pavilion staff should record who is working/volunteering during the shows in case contact tracing is necessary.
- It is recommended that there are no concessions. If there are concessions, we have provided recommendations in the section on lobby flow below (optimal).
- If there are concessions, consider serving carts with prepackaged and easily deliverable snacks and drinks on a cart IN the Orpheum theatre (less optimal).
- Or consider our recommendation for changing where the concessions stands are in our lobby flow recommendations (less optimal).
- Or consider keeping the concessions where they are but following our lobby flow recommendations for that below (least optimal).
Restrooms will be controlled and managed to reduce potential for spread of disease.
- Only one individual or one family at a time.
- Identifiers on the floor will guide appropriate distancing for line management.
- Arrows and stanchions will guide traffic flow for appropriate distancing. • Restrooms in current Orpheum lobby and restrooms in the historic Orpheum lobby will be open for proper crowd management (see recommendations for lobby flow below).
- The old screen covered box office in the new Orpheum lobby should be utilized. Face coverings will also be worn by personnel.
- Ticket office personnel will wipe down high touch surfaces between uses. After wiping down surfaces
- Employees are to take necessary breaks to wash or sanitize their hands.
- The line for ticket purchases will be marked for social distancing of guests (see lobby flow recommendations below).
SECT ticket exchange policy has been modified to allow guests to exchange tickets for a different performance up to performance time if experiencing any symptoms of illness or if they learn they have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Seating in the Orpheum theatre should be marked for party/family style seating. Seat clumps are marked 2 to 6 or maybe even 7 people. All tickets should be general admission. This would be like seating at a restaurant. One usher acts like the host and asks how many are in the party, then asks another usher to seat that party to the best of their ability. Larger groups may have to be broken into smaller groups. The balcony should be open to accommodate as much seating as possible. It is recommended to seat the floor seating first, but reserve some for late elderly late arrivals who may not be able to handle the stairs in the balcony – we may be able to use ticketing information to prepare for this. As the floor fills up and we see we are expecting more seniors to arrive, it is recommended that more able bodied people be seated in the balcony. This is a bit of a puzzle and the 3M Company volunteer logistic engineers are working on a computer simulation. Improvements to this idea are forthcoming as the 3M continues to consult us. See lobby flow section below.
GUEST SERVICES VOLUNTEERS
All guest services volunteers will abide by the policies addressed in Section 1: General COVID-19 Policies. As a reminder: any volunteer who has a temperature above 100.4F or symptoms of COVID-19 will not be permitted into SECT facilities. All volunteers must observe all practices listed in ‘General Employee Practices’ in section 1, while in SECT facilities.
- Face coverings (masks or face shields) will be worn while interacting with guests.
- Ushers will frequently clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in all audience accessible spaces including the lobbies, theatres, hallways, entrances, restrooms, and other locations.
- Lobbies (2): Monitor traffic for stairwells and elevator, guide for alternative stairways
- Restrooms (2): Monitor use of restroom and clean after each use.
- Concessions (1): Load and sell concessions inside the theatre
- Ticket Reviewer (2): Identify audience member and inform them of their seat assignment
- Seating Usher (2): Escort audience to seats
- Greeters (2): At each entrance to help audience find their way. Distribute masks for those who don’t have them. Encourage hand sanitizer.
Amount of usher may change. See lobby flow recommendations below.
- It is recommended that the historic Orpheum lobby doors are used for immediate seating. This is for people who already have their tickets and have masks and are ready to be seated.
- The new Orpheum lobby is used for people who are not ready for immediate seating and crowd control and bathrooms. This space should be used for ticketing, selling masks, will call, and all other forms of guest services. The flow of people getting into the theatre is the most challenging logistical hurdle in the way of the safest possible theatre-going experience. Watch the videos in the link below to see how the logistical engineers from 3M Company in Brookings recommend we proceed. There are several options for the most challenging bit; concessions (we recommend no concessions, but have several options if necessary).