FAQ

Transmission of coronavirus:

What are the symptoms of coronavirus infection?

Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, tiredness, common cold, nausea and diarrhoea. The disease has also been associated with dysgeusia and odour disturbances.[1]

How is coronavirus transmitted?

According to current information, coronavirus is primarily transmitted as a droplet infection when someone with the disease coughs or sneezes. When a person coughs or sneezes, in addition to larger drops, very small droplets may also be created that may remain in the air for a short time in the form of aerosols. On present information, however, the risk of airborne infection is low.

In close contact, the corona can also be transmitted by contact if, for example, a person has coughed on his or her hands and has then touched another person. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with surfaces on which an affected person’s respiratory secretions have recently landed. However, according to current information, surfaces play no significant role in the spread of the virus.[2]

Is the coronavirus transmitted through sweat (from a person or used clothing)?

Coronavirus is not a skin-mediated infectious disease, so it is not transmitted directly through sweat.[3]

Is it possible to contract coronavirus from a drop of saliva flying into the eyes, such as when a prompter sits near a performer speaking her lines?

It is possible to become infected via the eyes. A face visor can be used to protect against splashes.[4]

Shared spaces:

When a small space is used by a large number of people (e.g. a changing room), do aerosols remain in the space?

The risks of aerosol and surface contamination are always higher in confined spaces. For this reason, we recommend that small break and dressing rooms should be used only by a few people at a time.

However, when a particular team or “family” uses the space at the same time, there is less risk of transmission than when a mix of people from different teams uses it. It is therefore not reasonable to set a limit in absolute person numbers, if this were to lead to “excess” people mixing with other team members in another changing room.

The risk can be reduced by timing, rotation and dispersion of break spaces.

If only a few people at a time get into the lift, doesn’t the traffic just goes down the stairs?

Members of the same team can use the same lift if not doing so would cause traffic on the stairs. In any case, there is a better chance of keeping physical distancing on the stairs than in a lift. There is more room to cough safely on stairs than in a lift. You can also instruct those with weak lungs to take the lifts and others to take the stairs. Those who are sensitive to coughing (infirmity of lungs) can use the lift to prevent stress-induced coughing.[5]

Ventilation:

Does inadequate ventilation increase the risk of infection? How can we reduce the risk?

Well-functioning ventilation is important for the removal of possible indoor air contaminants, and the ventilation must be sufficient and continuous.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, an air purifier can be suitable for reducing viruses from indoor air, provided that appropriate cleaning techniques, maintenance of equipment and installation in the cleaned space are taken into account.[6]

For example, an air cleaner with HEPA or ULPA filter can be used in small rooms if deemed necessary.[7]

However, the equipping of workspaces with air purifiers is unlikely to be an significant measure for preventing coronavirus infections, because it cannot affect the primary form of infection, i.e., drop infection occurring directly through coughing.

Individual fans are not recommended for use in workplaces with more than one person, especially in confined spaces with poor ventilation. If a fan is used, it should be positioned not to blow air directly from one person to another.[8]

If you want to improve ventilation by opening windows, consider possible other effects, such as street dust, pollen or rainwater entering, the air purity in the room, changes in pressure in the rooms, and condensation risks in refrigerated spaces.

Singing and orchestras:

Is there greater risk of contamination when singing?

There is a higher risk of infection because singing, as well as loud speaking, can result in a lot of drops in the immediate surroundings of the airways. In practice, the direction of singing can have an affect: in other words, aiming to sing away other people’s faces.[9]

What is a good physical distance between singers, for example in choir practice? Should we use a visor for singing practice?

Efforts shall be made to leave distances as long as possible between singers, at least 1–2 m. For example, while in performances it is not always possible to avoid close contact, close contacts should be minimized in all other activities.

You should try using visors in rehearsals.[10] Clean the visors when going for breaks and make sure the visors are not mixed up.

How can condensation water from wind instruments be safely drained?

Condensation water can be emptied into a personal container that the player personally empties and cleanses, or soaked into a disposable tissue that he or she then puts in the bin.

If you want to use washable cloths for draining condensation water, the players must either wash them themselves or put the towels in a separate bag. The bag must be labelled as infectious laundry so the laundry person can be prepared.[11] 

Do wind instruments carry a greater infection risk? How can we reduce the risk?

The largest number of aerosols is near the mouth of the wind instrument, although the aerosol cloud spread by flute instruments is slightly larger. Most of the drops go into the instrument and only a small part get into the surrounding air.[12]

We recommend physical distances that are as long as possible between wind players, and between wind players and other players. Consider the direction of the players’ faces and the direction they blow in to keep the aerosol cloud away from others. Plexiglass screens can be placed between players.

How should instruments be cleaned? Does the lifetime of the virus depend on what kind of material it lives on? Can the virus live longer on a porous surface, like a wooden mouthpiece?

If an alcohol-containing disinfectant can be used for cleaning, it is recommended. A cleaning brush may release aerosols into the surrounding area, so brushing the instrument should be carried out separately from other people. Wiping with a dry cloth is better than not cleaning altogether.

Wood surfaces are usually naturally disinfecting, in contrast with plastic surfaces. Some metals such as silver, gold, and copper impair the virus’s ability to survive. In hard materials, the virus stays only on top, but in porous materials it can be transported inside them to shelter.[13]

Wardrobe and costume fittings:

Do fitting sessions one after the other increase the risk of infection even if the same performers are not in the room at the same time?

Oral-nasal masks, face visors or breath protectors are recommended for both the fitter and the performer. It is good to take a break between the fittings so that there is a break from the use of the protective equipment and the room can be partially aired. If the ventilation of the room cannot be improved during the break, leaving the room is recommended.

If a performer cannot have a tissue on stage, where should he or she cough or sneeze? Does touching sleeves increase the risk of infection?

There are several situations in the performing arts where sneezing into disposable tissues is not possible. In the present case, sneezing into sleeves is the most sensible option to prevent respiratory secretions from ending up directly in the airways of people nearby. The important thing here, too, is not come to work sick and to observe good hand hygiene.

Clearly dirty clothes are cleaned after the performance. Protective gloves shall be worn when cleaning clothes with secretions on them, while protecting airways during dusty phases also reduces risks.[14] The risk of infection when touching sleeves is low if you observe good hand hygiene.

Is there a high risk of infection from shared clothes? How should clothes be handled in between uses? How should costumes be washed?

When handled with clean hands, performance costumes can be changed safely from one person to another if they have not been coughed on or otherwise splashed with airway secretions.[15] However, we recommend washing or disinfecting a shared garments or wigs as far as possible.

Lower washing temperatures reduce the number of viruses; temperatures above 70°C destroy the virus. A disinfectant, such as sodium hypochlorite, may also be used. Disinfectants should be used in accordance with instructions to avoid harm to health from the disinfectant. The disinfectant may be used after normal washing a good rinse cycle if the washing temperature is low.[16]

Ageing may also be used: i.e., allowing the dress or wig to go untouched for as long as possible. The virus’s ability to live and infect begins to decrease as soon as it leaves the human body. The longer a product is unused, the safer it is in coronavirus terms. The material contributes to the reduction of the virus. It reduces most rapidly on so-called organic material surfaces.[17]

How should I handle a mask or headdress when changing it from one performer to another? 

Cleaning of clothing, costumes and masks worn near the face should be done carefully, either by disinfecting, washing or ageing for a sufficient period.

Hair and makeup:

Can there be a risk of infection from using shared combs and brushes: should they be disinfected or replaced between clients?

You cannot get the coronavirus infection through a hairbrush, but washing and changing can be a good practice even when working normally, for example to prevent headlice.[18]

The makeup brushes are changed so that each client is made up with her or her own brush. However, the product still gets in the client’s eye area via the brushes. Is it necessary to disinfect powder-like makeup (e.g. eyeshadow, rouge, etc.) applied with a brush?

Temporary contact does not pose a significant risk,[19] but if you want, you can cut out a piece of the powder-like product, put it on a disinfected surface, and then use the brush.

Customer service:

What is the risk of infection to cloakroom attendants when touching a customer’s outer clothing, for example, if the customer has recently sneezed on his jacket sleeve? Should cloakroom tokens be regularly cleaned? Do you have to leave at least 1 m between different customers’ jackets?

There is little risk of infection if hand hygiene is observed. However, customers’ jackets can be hung further apart to increase the customers’ sense of safety. Cloakroom tokens can be disinfected, washed or aged overnight to reduce the potential viruses. Cloakroom attendants must have access to hand washing and hand rinsing.

How should I protect myself and a customer when giving first aid?

It is good to add mouth-nose protectors and protective gloves to the first aid kit, both for yourself and for the customer. Fever, dry cough and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms of the coronavirus infection.[20]

Should only card payments be preferred, thus limiting the use of cash? Do you have to clean the terminal after every PIN code entry?

We recommend encouraging card payments. Cleaning is not necessary after every customer, but hand sanitizers must be provided next to the payment terminal.[21]

Should the customer service personnel, such as the ticket inspector or the lobby guard, wear a mask?

If physical distancing is not possible, we recommend using a face visor or mouth-nose protector. If the work involves contact, e.g. assisting the customer on the stairs, staff should also remember to wash their hands between each customer.

On stage:

How much distance should be left between the orchestra or the performers and the audience so they are not exposed to each other?

Maximum physical distancing increases safety. An exact distance is impossible to give, as it has not been studied in practice. Circumstances also affect the situation.[22] We recommend a minimum physical distance of 1–2 m.

Should there be physical distancing between performers in quick costume changes?

As far as possible, it is good to keep safe distances and to disperse the costume change locations. Dressers, makeup artists and hairdressers should disinfect their hands between changes.

How do you clean the set or other surfaces which both technical and artistic personnel touch? Should protective gloves be worn?

A lot of stage technical work involves touching objects and surfaces that many people touch. The most commonly touched surfaces are cleaned more intensively (such as door handles, light buttons, working time effects) but there are also surfaces that cannot be cleaned by cleaning companies. Regular decontamination is carried out by employees on a case-by-case basis.

The basic premise is before coming in from the outside, before and after work, and before and after meals: wash your hands. Disposable gloves should be made available. In any case, before gloves are put on and after removing the gloves, hands must be washed and gloves properly disposed to reduce risk.

In choreography, there can be brief contact between several dancers. What meaning and effect do these changing close contacts have?

Limiting contacts to one’s own team and following safety instructions at work and in leisure time reduces the risk of infection. When a new person enters the group, ensure that he or she is as healthy as possible and that he or she is well acquainted with safety practices. Washing your hands before and after rehearsals and breaks and staying home when ill reduces risk. During the rehearsal phase, breaking into small groups and rehearsing at safe distances is preferable.


Sources:

[1] National Institute for Health and Welfare 23.6.2020. Accessed 23 June 2020. https://thl.fi/fi/web/infektiotaudit-ja-rokotukset/ajankohtaista/ajankohtaista-koronaviruksesta-covid-19/oireet-ja-hoito-koronavirus

[2] Coronavirus transmission and incubation period 5 June 2020. Accessed 24 June 2020. https://thl.fi/fi/web/infektiotaudit-ja-rokotukset/ajankohtaista/ajankohtaista-koronaviruksesta-covid-19/tarttuminen-ja-suojautuminen-koronavirus/koronaviruksen-tarttuminen-ja-itamisaika

[3], [4], [5], [7], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], Sirpa Laitinen 17 June 2020. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s answers to open-ended questions by email.

[6] National Institute for Health and Welfare 5.6.2020. Coronavirus and indoor air safety. Accessed 24 June 2020. https://thl.fi/fi/web/ymparistoterveys/sisailma/koronavirus-ja-sisailman-turvallisuus#ilmanpuhdistimet

[8] National Institute for Health and Welfare 23.6.2020. Instructions for the prevention of health hazards of heat for the population. Accessed 23 June 2020. https://thl.fi/fi/web/ymparistoterveys/ilmasto-ja-saa/helle/helteen-terveyshaittojen-torjunta-vaestolle