EXCLUSIVE: The coronavirus epidemic must be “under control” and testing be frequent and accurate before it’s safe for actors and stage managers to return to work, the executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, Mary McColl, wrote to members today.
Other conditions McColl cited before members can return to the theater: that there must be “few new cases in the area and contact tracing” — which involves identifying people who’ve had contact with an infected person; that “individuals who may be infectious can be readily identified and isolated;” rehearsals, auditions, performances and theaters themselves “may need to change;” and that efforts to control exposure to Covid-19 be “collaborative,” involving union members and employers.
McColl didn’t elaborate on the conditions in her email, which was obtained by Broadway Journal. They were recommended by a consultant, David Michaels, an epidemiologist and former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health under President Obama.
“Right now, it is clear that these four considerations have not been met in any part of the country,” McColl wrote. “As things change, we’ll approach the return to work on a place-by-place basis. Some parts of the country may be at a lower risk level for you to go back to work before others.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down Broadway on March 12 under pressure from McColl, who had tweeted that any response from government “must put the workers first and protect the actors, stage managers and everyone who works in the theater.”
To-date, some 100,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. The number of new cases is rising in some parts of the country, including Arkansas and North Carolina, and falling in others, including New York and New Jersey.
Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, which represents producers and theater owners, said in an interview with the Daily Beast published on Monday that she believes that Broadway will reopen in January 2021. The industry is currently offering refunds to ticket holders for cancelled performances through the summer.