I don't know what MA rules are, but it is pretty well accepted countrywide that theater will be the last industry to open. It doesn't work without an audience and people paid to kiss each other (actors) can't mask or distance. Dancing and singing causes people to emit vastly more droplets and aerosol. Pit orchestras have only a small space and can't distance. Studies are being done to quantify the particles coming out of the the brass and wind instruments. And so on. Broadway has completely accepted that it is dark for the duration.
There is virtual orchestra and choir singing being done from home and some Shakespeare on the radio, etc., but theater is basically on hold everywhere.
I'm one of the experts who helped put together a plan for the film industry. So we are starting to film again. However, if you are a producer, you must first submit a plan consistent with this prototype plan. And that means actors get tested a minimum of 3 times/week and the crew members that can mask and distance most of the time is tested once a week. The test used must be for COVID-19 (no antibody tests, etc.) and must be 99% sensitive and 99% specific in order to be approved. The ventilation must exceed the ASHRAE standards. Sanitizing is rigorous. Travel to/from and housing must be considered. Etc, etc.
And if you have read this far, I would hope you might also be concerned that there is money in the budgets for testing film workers while black and brown (and white) essential workers are put at risk without testing other than perhaps temperature taking which is known to miss all the asymptomatic and presymptomatic shedders. I love my work and am proud of a plan that will keep our people relatively safe. But I feel the guilt we should all feel that we have tacitly accepted a money driven-political system that would consider testing actors and ball players OK while we shop in the supermarket for the food that is costing lives.
I think the young people noisily marching down my street every couple of days are right. We need to rebuild this whole thing from the ground up.
From: Kristi Ohr <kohr**At_Symbol_Here**UMASS.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Jul 24, 2020 3:20 pm
Subject: [DCHAS-L] singing and wind instruments indoors
I have a non-chemical safety question for you. This is a talkative bunch with many opinions on many subjects, so I figured it's okay to be off topic. I am particularly interested in your opinion if you are at an institution in MA. Is
your institution permitting your music/theater folks to do indoor singing or playing of wind instruments for the Fall? Curious of your or your colleagues opinions on this. Mine is that this is currently not permitted under theatre and performance sector
specific MA reopening guidelines (even though those technically apply to only performances and not classes). I think it's splitting hairs to say it's different if they are in front of an audience or not.. What are your thoughts?
Kristi Ohr, Ph.D. (pronouns: she/her)
Chemical Safety Services Manager
Environmental Health and Safety
40 Campus Center Way
Amherst, MA 01003
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