Actors Equity Warns Against "Troubling" Reports of Productions Resuming in May

Closed broadway theaters during the coronavirus pandemic on April 08, 2020 in New York City - Getty - H 2020
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The actors and stage managers' union urged members to contact their regional office if asked to work again in less than a month amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The union representing actors and stage managers has issued a stern warning to productions looking to resume business in less than a month amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Actors' Equity said on Wednesday that it had received "troubling" reports that some theaters were preparing to resume productions on paused or delayed shows "as early as May 6." It asked members that receive such directives to contact their regional Equity office and speak to a representative. 

“Any employer who wants to begin theatrical productions needs to have a comprehensive plan in place that protects not just the actors and stage managers, but ensures that everyone who works in the theater has a safe workplace,” executive director Mary McColl said in a statement. “It is unclear under the current circumstances how that can happen. Equity will use all of our available resources to ensure that no one is asked to work in an unsafe environment.”

While President Donald Trump has previously expressed a desire to reopen the nation's economy by May 1, scientific experts have warned against simplifying the return to normal. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN's State of the Union that a reopening could "probably start, at least in some ways, maybe next month," but warned, "It is not going to be a light switch."

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom offered six tasks the state needs to accomplish in order to determine when to reopen its economy, including increased testing, improved protection of high-risk individuals, bolstering hospitals' ability to handle a surge of visitors, developing therapeutics, ensuring social distancing for businesses, schools and childcare facilities and determining rules on when to reinstitute safety protocols such as "Safer at Home" measures.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak and widespread unemployment in its ranks of workers, Actors Equity has launched an emergency fund for members, granted a dues extension and called for government aid for out-of-work arts and entertainment workers.