FAQs on the latest information for re-opening for the arts

The RI Arts Council hosted a webinar on April 9, 2021, to update the arts community on the latest rules and regulations regarding re-opening for the arts this spring and summer. If you missed it, here is a link to the recording. Below are the questions and answers that were covered in the webinar.

The speakers were:
Department of Health, Steven Boudreau;
Commerce RI Benjamin Mays;
City of Providence, ProvidenceACT: Lizzie Araujo;
and Department of Business Regulation, Elizabeth Tanner.

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FAQs Re-opening for the arts

Outdoor Events

Q: What are current restrictions on outdoor performances? Number of attendees, distancing and masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: Outdoor performances are restricted to the same capacity requirements as outdoor venues of assembly which are currently capped at 500 people. Six-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household and masks must always be worn.

Size of the area does not impact the capacity restrictions and 500 people is the maximum any outdoor venue of assembly can go up to. However, with the 6-foot distancing requirement, not all outdoor venues will be able to accommodate 500 people. The 6 foot-distancing requirement takes precedence over the 500-person maximum.

Q: What should we know about performers operating outdoors in front of an audience? Choral and instrumental spacing on stage? Masked or unmasked?

A: While performers are singing or playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth, modify or adjust seating arrangements and use visual cues to keep them at least 14 feet apart when masks are not being worn.

Performers singing or playing wind instruments with masks on and using bell covers should be a minimum of six feet apart. If performers are masked and playing an instrument that does not require the use of their mouth, such as drums, guitar, violin etc., keep them six feet apart, but 14 feet apart from those who are using their mouths to play an instrument or sing without a mask. This includes specialty music performance masks such as masks with slits, or in outdoor rehearsals where appropriate physical distancing may be challenging or inconsistent, such as marching band.

Limit the sharing of props, costumes, and wigs. Designate personal props to each individual and mark with name tags. No sharing of voice projecting mechanisms such as microphones or headpieces. Even microphones and headpieces used by only one person should be disinfected after use.

Q: Do you have guidance on things like box office operations, food service (for audience and for performers, with masks off)? Organized in pods or general seating?

A: Contactless payment is encouraged. If food or drink is being served, designated areas should be created away from the general audience where patrons are able to remove their masks for eating and drinking purposes. These areas should follow the same restrictions that are placed on the restaurant sector.

Q: What are reopening guidelines for summer 2021 youth camps?

A: They are pending and should be available shortly. Subscribe to our e-newsletter where we will place updates or check back here for updates.

Indoor Events

Q: If we are in compliance with regulations, when will indoor performances be able to resume? What questions should we be considering as we start to think about in-person events once more?

A: Indoor performances can resume following the same restrictions that are placed on venues of assembly.

Q: What are current restrictions on indoor performances or art exhibits? Number of attendees, distancing, masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: In both performance venues and art exhibits, 6-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household. Indoor performance venues would be classified as venues of assembly.

Currently venues of assembly are restricted to 50 percent of the venues capacity and capped at 250 indoors and 500 outdoors. With the 6-foot distancing requirement, some venues may not be able to achieve the 50 percent capacity or capped thresholds.

Indoor art exhibits are restricted to one person per 50 square feet.

Q: Are there any differences among the kinds of performances? For example, youth theatre, dance, instrumental or choral music?

A: No

Ventilated/Unventilated spaces

Q: What are HVAC requirements for summer – small spaces with old air conditioning units or are poorly ventilated?

A: Individual venues should consult with the Department of Business Regulations with the specifics of their current HVAC capabilities.

Q: Will performers need to wear masks when they are off stage?

A: Yes, performers must wear masks when they are off stage.

Social distancing

Q: what are some best practices for audiences? If patrons are seated more than six feet apart, is it okay for them to remove masks?

A: No, even if the social distancing requirement is maintained at six feet, masks cannot be removed and must be worn throughout the duration of the event.

People from the same household may sit within 6 feet of one another, but those who are not from the same household must be sat at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Q: What guidelines exist for cleaning and disinfecting?

A: All covered entities shall ensure the performance of environmental cleaning of their establishments once per day, with particular attention paid to commonly touched surfaces, such as shared workstations, elevator buttons, door handles and railings. Covered entities shall use, and have readily available to service providers, cleaning/disinfecting products designed to clean/disinfect the surfaces they are cleaning/disinfecting and shall use the products in the manner intended.

Vaccinated, Tested, Infected

Q: Do you recommend testing prior to rehearsals or performances? Will proof of vaccination replace proof of a negative COVID test result?

A: The Health Department continues to recommend testing even for rehearsals and performances. Currently, proof of vaccination does not replace a negative COVID test.

Q: Are there any guidelines about distancing if all performers have been vaccinated? or if not?

A: The Executive Order currently in place mandates that six feet be maintained from people who are not from the same household regardless of vaccination status. Even those who have been vaccinated, should stay 6 feet apart from those who are not from the same household as them.

Q: If a performer, student or staff member tests positive for COVID, will the program or production need to be shut down for a period of time?

A: Depending on who is identified as a close contact of the person who has tested positive, the program or production may need to suspend operations.

Anyone who was within six feet of the positive individual for a total of 15 minutes or more, starting two days before their symptom onset or before a positive test was received, is identified as a close contact and must follow the quarantine guidelines. Current exemptions from close contact quarantine can be found in Executive Order 21-26.

Q: Can/should a venue collect written vaccination status from performers, staff, volunteers and audience members, and is this even allowable? how does one handle a non-vaccinated person?

A: We are not proposing this at this time.

If things go bad

Q: Can you share some force majeure contract language that specifically relates to COVID and capacity limits perhaps being changed if an uptick occurs?

A: All the current mitigation measures that are put into place and all the steps we have taken in reopening the economy can be scaled back if our public health measures do so require them to be. We want people to have the freedom of being able to plan their events and performances, but these plans must always have the caveat that there are back-up plans if capacity restrictions are reduced, or more strict mitigation requirements are put into place. We encourage individuals and event organizers to remain flexible. Whatever current capacity restrictions and mitigation measures are in the Executive Order at the time of your event are the ones you should follow and adhere to.

Additional information links and forms: