Stage work activities

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 [1] and continuous, adequate ventilation are also valid  for people working on stage.

  • 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. Additionally, we recommend using predictive healthcare in line with the organization’s own instructions.
  • 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.
  • Note that a special feature of performing art is that close contact between performers cannot be completely avoided.

We also recommend these measures for work on the stage:

Illness and backups:

  • As far as possible, we recommend the introduction of a backup system, either by using a backup list or by cross-playing as backups for others.
  • As more standins may be used, attention must be paid to responsibilities and to the clarity of chains of command so as not to jeopardize occupational safety. The time and orientation required for the necessary additional rehearsals must also be taken into account.
  • We recommend employers select a person responsible for each department, who will take care of the safety instructions for the department’s staff. At the same time, the staff are responsible for complying with the safety instructions given.
  • In free field productions or non-hierarchical operating environments, we recommend that the working group also selects a responsible person who will issue safety instructions.

For visiting workers:

  • We recommend that visiting workers be subject to the same rules on occupational health in terms of suspected coronavirus, and that they commit in advance to the organization’s coronavirus guidelines. As far as possible, the aim is to place visitors in dressing rooms different from regular staff.

Shared facilities, breaks and meals:

  • We recommend that the dressing rooms, break rooms and other confined spaces are visited by only 1–2 people at a time, with physical distancing. However, the overall risk from congestion somewhere else needs to be taken into account.
  • We recommend, if possible, that the employees in various productions be dispersed to different dressing rooms/break rooms.
  • We recommend that the rehearsal schedule be adjusted so that people from different stages are not on break or eating at the same time, for example, by staggering the start time between different stages.
  • We recommend that teams take breaks and eat at times agreed in advance so that there is no additional contact with other teams. If possible, dining and break rooms can be distributed to different spaces.
  • In break rooms, you should remember to wipe of co-operated products, such microwaves, after each use, as well as hand hygiene.
  • Spaces, contact surfaces and passageways should be cleaned daily in accordance with the general coronavirus cleaning instructions

Staff working on stage:

  • We recommend that stage staff have access to a sufficient number of personal work gloves that are disinfected and exchanged regularly.
  • We recommend that work clothing and protective equipment, such as protective helmets or caps, be kept in the spaces intended for them. Make sure that personal equipment does not mix.
  • With the exception of performers, we recommend that people working on stage use a mouth-nose mask, visor or breath protector in close contact. 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.
  • If the above-mentioned shields are used, care must be taken to dispose of waste/laundry in a way that does not increase the risk of infection.
  • We recommend that articles/wear used for rehearsals and performances that cannot be cleaned be handled particularly well with hand hygiene (soap washing/sanitiser) or use disposable or disinfectable protective gloves.
  • We recommend that only the relevant staff are present on the stage.
  • We recommend cleaning shared radiotelephones after each use and personal headsets.
  • The person attaching microphones shall pay particular attention to hand hygiene between each performer or wear disposable, one-off gloves.
  • When cleaning of wireless mikes, the stem should be disinfected after each use and if all parts of the microphone cannot be disinfected, the non-disinfected parts shall be allowed to rest overnight to reduce virus before the next user. If possible, personal microphones are preferable.[2]

Directors, choreographers and performers:

  • We recommend that directors, in cooperation with the organizer, plan in advance and stick to the training schedule so that extra people do not arrive in the space.
  • We recommend that the director/choreographer maintains physical distancing when directing performers.
  • We recommend that planning, feedback and meetings be conducted as far as possible in a separate space or remotely.
  • We recommend that the performance be rehearsed at safe intervals for as long as possible until you start dress rehearsals. If there is exposure or suspicion of disease in the working group, remote rehearsals can also be arranged according to the house’s policy. Cooperation between the organizer and the director is important. Regional discretion can be used and the local infectious disease authority contacted.
  • We recommend that small group training be used when possible.
  • We recommend proactive discussion in works that contain a lot of physical contact and encourage people to bring up any concerns to the responsible persons, occupational health services or shop stewards.
  • We recommend that each employee be directed to take care of his own belongings, such as scripts, drinking bottles, props, and personal tools, and to put them back in their place after the rehearsal. The props used in the rehearsal/performance should be put in the specific props trolley/shelf so that the relevant person knows they must be cleaned.
  • We recommend filling water bottles from designated taps or using bottled water.
  • We recommend avoiding spending unnecessary time on the side of the stage. For example, during the rehearsal period, the lobby spaces can be used as break rooms, where people can go, with physical distancing, to take a break.
  • We recommend that no additional personal items be brought into the training room.
  • We recommend pausing public tours in training and performance spaces during the pandemic.

Sources:

[1] Finnish Institute of Occupational Health 28 May 2020. Cleaning guidelines for preventing COVID-19 infections. Accessed 16 June 2020. https://hyvatyo.ttl.fi/koronavirus/ohje-siivoukseen

[2] 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


Update information:

These instructions were updated on 18 June 2020 by the stage subordinate working group, led by: Vesa Huittinen (vesa.huittinen@ouka.fi).

The following people also attended the group’s meetings: Virpi Laine (Turku City Theatre), Timo Härkönen (Helsinki City Theatre), Mika Lehtinen (TTT-Theatre, Tampere), Antti Timonen (Helsinki City Theatre), Antti Kauppi (AHAA Theatre), Sasu Tuominen (Helsinki City Theatre), Anna-Maria Klintrup and Reija Wäre. The text was also commented on by Mikko Makkonen (Minimi Dance Theatre) and Johannes Purovaara