Props

General instructions on physical distancing of 1–2 m from other people and hand hygiene (soap washing and sanitiser), as well as general coronavirus cleaning instructions (wiping of contact surfaces with a basic all-purpose cleaner and, if necessary, disinfectant, at least daily) and continuous, adequate ventilation are also valid for the work of props makers and staff who handle props.

  • The exceptional situation calls for changes in the working culture in the performing arts sector: all close contacts must be reduced, the social working culture changed and there should be a lower threshold to stay at home sick.
  • An employee with the symptoms of the illness cannot come to work. After the illness there must be one completely asymptomatic day. We recommend continuing a procedure in which employees can notify employers themselves about staying at home sick.
  • We recommend dividing the workplace into teams (or “families”) which colleagues do not change between and in which they avoid contact with other teams’ members.
  • We recommend that the number of people using the rooms is taken into consideration when choosing work and rehearsal rooms so that there is enough space to be able to maintain safe distances.
  • We recommend that personnel wear masks, whenever possible, in all situations where safe distances cannot be maintained.

General information about working with props:

  • We recommend the introduction or extension of a substitute system.
  • In particular, if there is only one person responsible for the props at the workplace, it is necessary to prepare for absence in advance: we recommend making comprehensive lists of props and the related switches and cleaning, as well as paying attention to storage between performances.
  • In larger workplaces, attention can be paid to the division of teams according to different productions. On the other hand, a worker moving between different productions/stages must take special care with hand hygiene and possible personal protection.
  • We recommend making access to the facilities available only to those who work with them, we recommend that all visitors to the facilities wear a face mask, a respirator mask or a face shield.
  • We recommend that meetings and planning work be carried out remotely as far as possible.
  • We recommend that physical distancing be maintained in the premises where props are kept and if maintaining safe distances is not possible, we recommend the use of a face mask, a respirator mask or a face shield.
  • We recommend the use of mouth-nose protection, respiratory protection, or visor for props and other long-term contacts. Please note that the use of protective equipment is decided on a case-by-case basis on the basis of the employer’s risk assessment.
  • According to current information, 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.[1]

Preparation and design of equipment:

  • Before the start of rehearsals, we recommend that a plan be made for the safe use and transportation of the props on the stage and that the working group be committed to acting in accordance with the instructions.
  • If some props cannot be cleaned and disinfected, we recommend considering safe alternatives with artistic designers/directors.
  • We recommend critical consideration of the use of oral props and food in performances. If the oral props are used, we recommended personal props and paying attention to hand hygiene and disinfection.
  • When making new props, we recommend making ones that can be disinfected or otherwise cleaned.
  • Co-operated devices (workshop equipment, computer keyboards) must be cleaned before use, by wiping them with a suitably mild alkaline detergent or alcohol-containing cleaner.

Props in rehearsals:

  • We recommend that employees and performers wash their hands with soap and warm water or use hand rinse when entering the training/performance space.
  • If maintaining safe distances is not possible during rehearsals, we recommend the use of a face mask, a respirator mask or a face shield.
  • We recommend that the props are named for each performer and that the performers do not touch anything other than those designated for themselves.
  • We recommend splitting two props tables/shelves: one for used and one for unused props.
  • The props are brought to the training room under transparent plastic. It is thus known that no one has touched the props since cleaning.
  • After rehearsal, performers take their own props to a designated table, which is intended only for the props used in the scenes, i.e. to be cleaned. This is how the props caretakers know which items need to be cleaned between rehearsals.
  • The used props are cleaned between the rehearsals. Enough working hours need to be allocated for this.
  • Consideration will also be given to any prop that does not withstand cleaning: when planning the work, account must be taken of any props that need to be aged between applications, or if, for example, another copy has to be made of it.[2]
  • We recommend that hand sanitisers and disinfectants, paper and a package of rubber gloves be placed in the rehearsal rooms and on stage so that the props can also be disinfected during the rehearsals if necessary.
  • We recommend that shared props be cleaned between performers. If this is not possible, we recommend that several similar copies be produced, if possible.
  • However, the risk of infection through props is low if good hand hygiene is observed.
  • We recommend that special attention be paid to ensuring that the props which come near to performers’ masks and faces are not mixed.

In scenes:

The same instructions as above apply, in addition to which particular attention should be given to:

  • We recommend that employees wash/disinfect their hands before and after each action and quick changes. We also recommend that performers wash or disinfect their hands when possible.
  • If maintaining safe distances is not possible during performances, we recommend the use of a face mask, a respirator mask or a face shield.
  • If possible, in quick changes first clean props and only then used ones can be handled.
  • Consider the possible need for additional space at side stages due to more props tables/shelves.
  • We recommend that performers take care of their personal props as far as possible.
  • We recommend that set change planning takes account of these instructions as early as the direction phase.

Props maintenance:

  • We recommend taking into account the risk areas and possible need for personal protection (protected gloves/protectives according to the house’s policy) in the maintenance of the props: handling dirty dishes and laundry. When handling laundry, avoid fluffing.
  • All and especially shared props are cleaned after performances and rehearsals. If the props cannot be cleaned, they can be left untouched, so the risk of the virus reduces.[3]
  • Consider the choice of the right cleaning agents for the right materials and appropriate personal protective equipment depending on the operational safety bulletin of the cleaning agent used.

Sources:

[1] Laitinen, Sirpa 2020. Actions required by coronavirus in theatre work. FIOH senior expert’s Power Point performance at the event on 3 June.

“Sufficient heat: more than +70°C for at least a few minutes destroys the virus. Lower washing temperatures reduce the number of viruses.

  • Use of detergent for at least 20-30 seconds reduces the amount.
  • Use of disinfectant as a solution for at least 0.5 to 1 minutes destroys the virus.
  • Alcohol (over 70%) (more than 60% in hand rinses)
  • Formaldehyde (over 1: 1000)
  • Sodium hypochlorite (over 0.05-0.1%)
  • Hydrogen peroxide solution (more than 0.5 %)”

[2], [3] Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare 2020. Coronavirus transmission and incubation period. Accessed 12 June 2020. https://thl.fi/fi/web/infektiotaudit-ja-rokotukset/ajankohtaista/ajankohtaista-koronaviruksesta-covid-19/tarttuminen-ja-suojautuminen-koronavirus/koronaviruksen-tarttuminen-ja-itamisaika

“In everyday life, the transmission ability and preservation of the virus on surfaces is influenced by temperature, air humidity, ventilation and surface materials.

So far, no food or commodity contamination has been detected.

Sensitive laboratory methods have shown that the virus can persist on various surfaces for up to three hours. However, theoretical studies cannot draw any direct conclusions as to how the virus survives in the everyday environment. According to current information, surfaces play no significant role in the spread of the virus.”


Update information:

Updated on 5 November 2020: added general mask recommendation.

These instructions were updated on 18 June 2020 by the props subordinate working group, led by: Elina Terho, elina.terho@opera.fi (Finnish National Opera and Ballet). The subordinate working group’s meetings were also attended by: Mikko Salmi (Finnish National Opera and Ballet), Mirja Arkonsuo (Helsinki City Theatre), Reetta Kinnunen (Kokkola City Theatre) ja Irene Lång (Finnish National Theatre). In addition, commentary was provided via email by Minna Hyvönen (Kajaani City Theatre) and Antti Hosia (Svenska Teatern).