Performing Arts Venues

COVID19 Prevention Checklist Industry Guidance

Last updated: Dec 30, 2020

The State of Maine has adopted a staged approach, supported by science, public health expertise, and industry collaboration, to allow Maine businesses to safely open when the time is right. The plan is available at

This is one of many industry guidance documents the State is preparing for businesses so they can be prepared to meet health guidelines and reopen safely. Please make sure you pair this document with the general guidance document that applies to all industries, which is available on

Please note: This document may be updated as additional information and resources become available. 

Performing Arts Venues

Group gatherings such as performances bring people from different households into close contact with each other for a long duration and have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission. The primary tools to control the spread of COVID-19 are to reduce exposure to respiratory droplets through physical distancing and face coverings, increase hand hygiene, and avoid shared items and common touch surfaces. The goals of this guidance are to protect staff, performers, patrons, and the local community from COVID-19 infection.

Beginning Friday, November 20, 2020, Performing Arts Venue establishments must close for the night by 9:00 p.m. (Updated 12/30/20)

General Guidance

  1. Require all staff, vendors, and patrons to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not part of their household group whenever possible.
  2. Require all staff, vendors, and patrons to wear a face covering, per CDC recommendations and pertinent Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor. Because patrons and staff may be in an enclosed space for a prolonged period, it is important to wear face coverings even when physically distanced. (Updated 12/4/20)
    1. Workers who may be interacting directly with patrons for a prolonged period (e.g. ushers, ticket takers) are encouraged to wear a face shield, in addition to a face covering.
    2. Face coverings do not need to be worn while an individual is actively eating or drinking. (Updated 12/4/20)
    3. Additional information about proper use of face coverings is available from the CDC (see: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19).
  3. The number of individuals that can gather in a shared space (e.g., an auditorium, lobby) must not exceed the limit established by the Governor’s Executive Order. For the purposes of this guidance, the stage and audience space are separate shared spaces provided there are at least 14 feet between the stage and the closest audience member.
    1. If a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the six-foot distancing requirement, occupancy must be limited to allow for such compliance.

Cleaning and Disinfection

  1. Refer to the following documents for guidance on general cleaning and disinfection:
    1. COVID-19 Prevention Checklist General Guidance (State of Maine)
    2. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (CDC)
    3. Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)


  1. Staff should consider whether they can work safely in a facility if they have any of these conditions and managers should discuss potential risks for individuals with the following:
    1. People 65 or older
    2. People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
    3. People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled including:
      1. People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      2. People who have serious heart conditions
      3. People who are immunocompromised: Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
      4. People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
      5. People with diabetes
      6. People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
      7. People with liver disease
  2. Workers should stay at home if they are sick. Supervisors should ask all workers to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using either of the following approaches:
    1. Use an electronic or app-based self-screening form, such as the Coronavirus Self-Checker available on the federal CDC’s homepage.
    2. Self-screen using the following questions:
      1. Do you feel ill or have you been caring for someone who is ill?
      2. In the past two weeks, have you been exposed to anyone who tested positive for COVID-19?
  3. Require employees to practice good hand hygiene with frequent handwashing, especially after contact with other individuals or high-touch surfaces.
  4. Conduct business by phone or internet to the greatest extent practicable.
  5. Limit in-person gatherings or meetings of employees to the greatest extent practicable.
  6. Where possible, stagger employee shifts and meal breaks to avoid crowding.
  7. Adjust seating in break rooms and other common areas to promote physical distancing practices.
  8. Permit employees to take breaks and lunch outside, or in such other areas where physical distancing is attainable.
  9. Discourage employees from using colleagues’ phones, desks, workstations, radios, handhelds/wearables, or other office tools and equipment.
  10. Limit interactions between employees and outside vendors or delivery drivers; implement touchless receiving practices if possible.
  11. Request that vendors accessing the premises direct their employees to follow all physical distancing guidelines and health directives issued by the applicable public authorities.
  12. Adjust training/onboarding practices to limit number of people involved and allow for 6 foot spacing; use virtual/video/audio training when possible.
  13. Provide employees training on:
    1. hand hygiene
    2. physical distancing guidelines and expectations
    3. monitoring personal health
    4. proper wear, removal, and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    5. laundering of face coverings and uniforms:  Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry (CDC)
    6. cleaning protocols, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies:  Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes (CDC)
  14. Consider employee training in safe de-escalation techniques.
  15. The need for physical distancing should not cause other unsafe working conditions. For example, if a piece of equipment takes four people to lift, then each worker should protect themselves from infection to the best of their ability while lifting the load together (e.g. wear a face covering, wash or sanitize hands before and after interaction).

Building and Operational Considerations

  1. Take steps to improve ventilation in the building.
    1. Increase the percentage of outdoor air (e.g., using economizer modes of HVAC operations) potentially as high as 100% (first verify compatibility with HVAC system capabilities for both temperature and humidity control as well as compatibility with outdoor/indoor air quality considerations).
    2. Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
    3. Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy.
    4. Consider using natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
    5. Consider relocating programming to an outdoor or other nontraditional venue that allows for increased spacing and airflow.
  2. Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of disease. Further guidance is available from the CDC (see: Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation).
  3. Ensure adequate supplies (e.g., soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, tissue) to support healthy hygiene practices, including increased cleaning and disinfection procedures.
  4. Inform visitors of your COVID-19 policies and procedures in advance, if possible, via website, newsletters, social media channels, newspaper, ticket purchasing site, etc.
  5. Place signage at entrances and throughout buildings (particularly high traffic areas such as service counters and usher podiums), alerting staff and patrons to required occupancy limits, physical distancing requirements, face covering policies, and symptoms of COVID-19. The federal CDC has developed printable posters on these topics (see: Print Resources).
  6. Because attending a performance puts individuals at a higher risk for transmission (indoors, proximity, groups of people, and longer duration of exposures), it is highly recommended that venues remind patrons that if they are ill (e.g. have a fever or cough) they should not attend the performance. Signage reminding patrons of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 is highly recommended.
  7. Consider installing non-porous physical barriers such as partitions or Plexiglas barriers to protect patrons, performers, and staff. Barriers should be placed at visitor information desks, service counters, usher podiums, and other similar locations where it is not possible to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance.
  8. Limit activities that require individuals to enter within 6 feet of another person, regardless of whether physical barriers are installed.
  9. Modify building/venue traffic flow to minimize contact between staff, contractors, and visitors. Use floor decals and/or signage to establish travel patterns.
    1. Consider one-way entrances and exits, if possible.
    2. Consider establishing one-way travel patterns through the venue.
    3. Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells and other spaces that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing. Consider limiting the number of individuals in an elevator at one time and designating one directional stairwells.
  10. Minimize shared touch surfaces such as pens, tablets, receipts, etc.
  11. Use digital rather than paper formats to the greatest extent practicable (e.g. electronic tickets, programs, and playbills).
    1. If paper playbills/programs are used, consider contact-free distribution such as using card racks or tables.
    2. Do not reuse playbills/programs.
  12. Consider restricting the use of water fountains to refill only with instruction for visitors to wash hands after use.
  13. If an individual becomes ill during the event have a plan for a room or space where the person can be isolated until transferred to home or health care facility and provide a face covering or mask, if available and tolerated.
  14. For contact tracing purposes, to the extent practicable, establishments should maintain a record including contact information for visitors and staff who have direct prolonged interaction.
    1. Based on current knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Close contacts should stay home, maintain social distancing, and self-monitor until 14 days from the last date of exposure.
  15. Venues should promptly notify the Maine DHHS, CDC or any local health official if a they learn an employee or other worker has tested positive for COVID-19 and assist all such officials as reasonably requested to trace likely contacts and advise contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.
  16. In-theater food service operations should follow state guidance on safe operation of food and drink service.
    1. Drink or popcorn refills should not be allowed unless served in a clean, unused container.
    2. Minimize self-service areas such as drink stations. To the extent possible, use contact-less dispensers to minimize hand touching. Replace multi-use condiments with single-serve packets. Other suggestions to minimize multi-touch surfaces include providing single-wrap utensils, straws, and lids provided at any take-out or self-seating point of sale. Self-service areas require frequent cleaning and disinfection
    3. Use of prepackaged food and beverages is encouraged.
    4. Same queuing rules apply to food service as to general waiting lines, listed above.
  17. Retail spaces selling merchandise at venues should follow state guidance on safe operation of retail businesses.
  18. To limit staff contact with trash, encourage all patrons to dispose of their trash at the end of the performance in the appropriate receptacles.
  19. Ensure that staffing of facilities is sufficient to enable enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures.
  20. Ensure appropriate time between showings for cleaning/disinfecting high-touch areas in the venue, including surfaces in public, backstage, dressing room, technical, and performance spaces. High-touch surfaces include, but are not limited to, armrests, handrails, trash receptacle touchpoints, door handles, ticket counters, microphones, microphone stands, and spotlights.
  21. High-touch equipment such as motor controllers, microphones, mic stands, presentation remotes, and audio/video cable should be sanitized frequently, and equipment should be dedicated to individual users where possible.
  22. Review procedures and policies for cleaning and disinfection of costumes, wigs, and props to ensure alignment with CDC guidelines (see: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect)
  23. Heavy equipment such as forklifts, boom lifts, and scissor lifts should minimize the number of operators of each piece of equipment where feasible.
  24. Production equipment and cargo should be cleaned and disinfected when unloaded at the venue.
  25. Parking attendants are unable to control the cleanliness or disinfection practices of patron vehicles, exposing the parking attendant to increased risk of infection. Therefore, valet operations are not recommended at this time.
  26. Enforce new safety guidelines for all events in the venue. This may necessitate an increased work or volunteer force specially trained to manage the COVID-19 environment.

Ingress, Egress, and Lobby Areas

  1. Eliminate waiting lines to the greatest extent practicable. Where lines are unavoidable, ensure 6 feet of distance between individuals. This can be accomplished by demarcating 6-foot distances on floors or walls.
    1. Consider scheduling patron arrival times to stagger arrivals and avoid crowding.
    2. Eliminate “zig-zag” queue patterns that make physical distance difficult to maintain.
    3. If an ingress queue consistent with physical distancing would cause the line to extend into a road or pedestrian walkway, consult with local public safety authorities to determine where to safely queue patrons.
  2. In order to avoid touching visitors’ personal items in coat check areas, encourage visitors to limit personal items brought into the venue. Practice good hand hygiene when handling visitors’ personal items.
  3. To the extent practicable, alter security protocols to allow for compliance with physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection practices.
    1. If bag checks are part of a venue’s security protocols, avoid touching patron personal items. Consider enforcing a small clear bag policy in which patrons open their own bags for inspection. Alternatively, consider prohibiting bags entirely, although exceptions will likely be necessary for medicine or personal hygiene products.
    2. Walk-through magnetometers are effective at detecting metallic objects while allowing security workers to maintain social distance. Hand wands are a less costly alternative that still allow no-contact metal detection, but they require the security worker to be closer than six feet from the patron, so they are less optimal from a health perspective. Pat-downs present the highest risk for transmission. It is strongly recommended that any worker conducting a pat-down search wear a face covering, face shield, and gloves and have access to a wash and sanitizing station.
  4. Consider limiting performance length and providing intermission-free performances to reduce duration of exposure and restroom crowding.
    1. Intermission presents challenges related to physical distancing. Even with fewer people attending events due to gathering limits, intermission may have to be longer than before to allow time for physically distanced patron movement. Given these issues, including how to let some patrons out of a row while others remain seated, shorter shows with no intermission are encouraged.


  1. Utilize remote ticketing options to manage direct interaction with customers.
  2. If paper tickets are used, establish will-call pickup time slots to avoid crowding. Encourage patrons to pick up tickets in advance of the performance date.
  3. Consider offering ticketing and will-call hours for visitors at higher risk for severe illness.
  4. Consider adopting touchless ticket scanning, during which the patron retains the ticket or electronic device during scanning.


  1. During seating procedures, eliminate close contact while escorting patrons to seats. Consider higher-visibility aisle and seat signage to facilitate self-service seating.
  2. The number of individuals that can gather in a shared space (e.g. a seating area) must not exceed the limit established by the Governor’s Executive Order. Count staff and patrons toward the gathering limit.
  3. To avoid crowding in common areas, stagger arrivals and departures to the extent practicable.
    1. If possible, load auditorium by section to reduce overcrowding at doors and aisles. Load from front to back to minimize patron contact.
    2. After events, patrons nearest the exits should leave first, by row or section, in order to clear space for patrons further inside to follow. This will require workers and volunteers to ensure that patrons understand the procedure and comply with physical distancing requirements until they are in their vehicles or otherwise outside the venue doors.
  4. In seated venues, limit seating to allow for at least six feet of physical distance between non-household members. This could be accomplished by requiring empty seats between household groups and limiting seating to every other row.
  5. In general admissions venues, take steps to remind patrons of social distancing requirements.
    1. Consider using high-visibility gaff tape on the floor of an indoor space, or spray chalk, survey flags, and cones for outdoor spaces, to mark six-foot separation. Consider using rope barriers and stanchions or bike racks to physically separate patrons.
    2. Use signage to remind patrons of physical distancing and face covering policies.
    3. Consider having the performer(s) reinforce physical distancing and face covering policies during the event.


  1. Limit restroom occupancy for group restrooms to incorporate physical distancing and avoid formation of waiting lines outside of restrooms.
  2. Clean and disinfect restrooms on a regular and scheduled basis (see General Cleaning and Disinfecting section).
  3. Remove any items that do not have to be in the restrooms (e.g., magazines, decor).
  4. Consider establishing separate restrooms for staff and visitors.
  5. Post handwashing signs in all restrooms.


  1. Limit cash and paper receipt transactions; Promote “contactless” payment options (e.g., online payments, pay by phone options, RFID credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
  2. Wash hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) after handling cash.
  3. Where possible, card readers should be placed in front of physical barriers so visitors can swipe their own cards and enter their codes. Card readers and keypads should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Hand sanitizer should be made available for visitors before and after transactions.

Technical Staff

  1. Technical staff should wear face coverings and eye protection (e.g., a face shield or goggles) throughout load-in, load-out, tech rehearsals and performances.
  2. Sound and light board spaces within an audience should be blocked off with at least a six-foot perimeter surrounding the board and operator.
  3. All tech equipment should be sanitized prior to handling and after each use.
  4. All technical staff that interact closely with performers should limit those interactions as much as possible.


  1. Performance groups—meaning any 2 or more individuals performing together—must adhere to the following measures to reduce transmission risk: (Updated 12/4/20)
    1. Maintain face coverings and physical distancing at all times.
    2. Adapt performances to accommodate personal protective equipment and physical distancing.
    3. Get tested for COVID-19 prior to, and again a few days after, beginning a series of rehearsals and performances with a certain group when possible.
    4. Maintain a consistent cohort—or “household”—of performers, minimizing the addition of new members once a group has started rehearsal and performance. Keep this “bubble” as close as possible, minimizing close contacts with other individuals.
  2. Artists travelling from outside of the state must adhere to all out-of-state travel guidelines as described in the Keep Maine Healthy plan. Consider requiring artists from outside the state (excepting other states exempted from quarantine and testing requirements, as described in the Keep Maine Healthy plan) to get tested for COVID-19 prior to arrival and/or quarantine all performers together for a two-week period prior to rehearsal start, throughout rehearsals and during the run of the show.
  3. Activities like singing or using a projected voice project respiratory droplets in greater quantity and over greater distance, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with prolonged exposure. Maintain at least 14 feet of separation—and more if possible—between audience members and performers such as vocalists and singers. Maximize physical spacing between singers on-stage. (Updated 12/4/20)
  4. Where possible, install barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles from vocalists and brass and woodwind instruments. Set up bands and orchestras to maximize social distancing between musicians. Consider installing sneeze guards/mute shields between musicians, if possible.
  5. Avoid interaction between performers and audiences. Consider eliminating any performances or components in which performers go into the audience or audience members are encouraged to come on-stage.
  6. Consider limiting the number of individuals in a production by staging one-person productions, or using partner teams or a family of performers initially.
  7. Limit certain activities such as fight scenes or intimate scenes in productions as they increase the risk of transmission. Consider measures to minimize scenes with close contact between performers, such as amending scripts or use of digital effects.
  8. Hairstylists and makeup artists should follow the guidance included in the Close Contact Personal Services checklist.
  9. When possible, adjust schedules to minimize the amount of back-and-forth travel needed by performers.
  10. Visitors should be limited unless their presence is absolutely necessary. If visitors must come, they will be subject to the same guidance as cast and crew, including, but not limited to, symptom screening and face covering requirements.
  11. As soon as possible after rehearsing or performing a scene, the performers should physically distance themselves. (Updated 12/4/20)

COVID-19 Prevention Form

In order to open, businesses must commit to complying with requirements of these checklists by filling out this short online form. Please note that religious organizations and licensed health care providers are not required to use this form.

If you have questions, please contact us at or 1-800-872-3838.