Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about COVID-19 ventilation protocols. Please also find related documents about ventilation guidance.
Do theatrical venues, rehearsal studios and employer-provided shared housing units have to complete all of the steps in Equity’s ventilation guidance before it can reopen?
No. If the producer/theater is working with a fully vaccinated workforce the only prerequisite to reopening at is to commit to having a ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance do the ventilation verification.
Do producers/theatres, stage managers and ventilation professionals have to complete any or all of the sample forms in Appendix B of the Ventilation Verification?
No. Those are documents for reference. The final HVAC Verification Report should be, at minimum, a cover letter from the design professional as identified in the ventilation guidance with their credentials, documentation of remaining deficiencies and a plan for continued maintenance, repairs, replacement or upgrades to improve energy efficiency, safety, or performance. Actors’ Equity should be informed of the plans that the producer/theater will be making and the timeline, including copies of work orders. If the timeline will interfere with current and/or future productions, temporary mitigation as recommended by the design professionals must be in place.
Do theatrical venues, rehearsal studios and employer-provided shared housing units have to meet all of the specifications in Equity’s ventilation guidance to stay open?
No. Not all of the above locations will be able to meet all of the specifications in the ventilation guidance. The only thing a producer/theater must do, if it has a fully vaccinated workforce, is contract with a ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance to complete the ventilation verification, which should include cleaning and filter changes.
If a producer/theater doesn’t have to do all the things in the ventilation guidance... then what is the point of getting a ventilation assessment?
In working with ventilation professionals, Actors’ Equity has learned that many ventilation systems can be made safer with minor adjustments. Also, a ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance will be able to clean a system and make sure it has appropriate filters, maximizing performance and safety. If a ventilation system is poor, a ventilation professional will be able to recommend mitigations, such as appropriate air purifiers. These are all useful adaptations for safety that can only be accomplished by a qualified technician as identified in the ventilation guidance attending to the ventilation system.
What happens if the ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance says the theatrical venues, rehearsal studios and/or employer-provided shared housing units cannot meet Equity’s guidelines without significant investment that it cannot afford?
The ventilation guidelines allow a producer/theater’s ventilation professional to advise on mitigation strategies to make the system safer within the producer/theater’s budget. For those producers/theaters fortunate enough to be able to plan for capital improvement, the ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance will be able to help with planning and budgeting for improvements. However, there may be locations that will never be able to satisfy every aspect of the guidance. This does not preclude those producers/theaters from continuing to produce as Equity houses. Working with a ventilation professional as identified in the ventilation guidance will ensure that the entire workforce is as safe as possible within the theatre’s budget.
Are facilities with no HVAC system required to complete Equity’s Ventilation Verification?
Yes. Ventilation is important in all indoor spaces. The Ventilation Verification documents have specific instructions for certified HVAC professionals to assess and offer mitigation options for facilities that do not have a mechanical HVAC system installed.