Performing Arts Venues, Museums, and Movie Theaters

COVID19 Prevention Checklist Industry Guidance

Last updated: Apr 16, 2021

The State of Maine has adopted a multi-layered approach to COVID-19 guidance—supported by science, public health expertise, and industry collaboration—to help Maine businesses and community organizations operate safely. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, these updated guidelines highlight the importance of employing multi-layered mitigation strategies to keep Maine businesses, employees, and residents as safe as possible from COVID-19 transmission. Public health guidance will continue to evolve as we learn which mitigation strategies most effectively reduce transmission risk.

No single measure or action will completely prevent transmission of COVID-19. Use of multiple strategies—sometimes called layered mitigation—provides greater protection than implementing a single strategy alone. When multiple mitigation strategies—including masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and ventilation—are consistently and correctly used, risk of transmission is decreased. 

Please pair this industry-specific guidance with the general guidance available at https://www.maine.gov/decd/covid-19-prevention-checklists.

For the latest information on travel policies and Executive Orders related to COVID-19 visit the Office of the Governor’s COVID-19 Response website: https://www.maine.gov/covid19.

Performing Arts Venues, Museums, and Movie Theaters

General Guidance

  1. Require all individuals to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from anyone who is not part of their household group or travel party whenever possible.
  2. Masks must be worn by all individuals in accordance with pertinent Executive Orders from the Office of the Governor.
  3. Establishments must comply with the following capacity limits, as established by Executive Order:
    1. All indoor gatherings and in-store customer limits:
      1. Effective March 26, 2021 through May 23, 2021: 50% of permitted occupancy or 50 persons (or 5 people per 1,000 square feet for retail establishments), whichever is greater.
      2. Effective May 24, 2021 and thereafter: 75% of permitted occupancy or 50 persons (or 5 people per 1,000 square feet for retail establishments), whichever is greater.
    2. Any outdoor gathering taking place at a facility or event that is subject to a permitted occupancy limit is subject to the following limits:
      1. Effective March 26, 2021 through May 23, 2021: 75% of permitted occupancy.
      2. Effective May 24, 2021 and thereafter: 100% of permitted occupancy
    3. People in a shared space must be able to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals outside of their household group/travel party. If a space cannot accommodate individuals maintaining 6 feet of physical distance, further restrict the number of individuals allowed in that space beyond the limits established by Executive Order.

Building and Operational Considerations

  1. Consider offering digital and remote programming.
  2. 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) when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
    5. Consider relocating programming to an outdoor or other nontraditional venue that allows for increased physical distancing and airflow.
    6. If different rehearsals or performances will take place in the same space, schedule a break between uses of the space to allow the central HVAC system to exchange the air in the space. A minimum of one air exchange (which 20 minutes will generally achieve) prior to the next use of the room is recommended, with three air exchanges preferable.
  3. Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features 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).
  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 capacity limits, physical distancing requirements, mask policies, and symptoms of COVID-19. The federal CDC has developed printable posters on these topics (see: Print Resources).
  6. Establishments should remind guests and staff that anyone who feels sick or has any COVID-19-like symptoms must stay home and not visit the establishment. Signage reminding individuals of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 is recommended.
  7. Consider installing non-porous physical barriers such as partitions or Plexiglas barriers to protect staff, guests, and performers. Barriers should be placed at visitor information desks, service counters, usher podiums, and other similar locations where it may not be 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. Ensure that physical distancing is maintained in elevators and stairwells. 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). If paper playbills/programs are used, consider contact-free distribution such as using card racks or tables.
  12. Consider restricting the use of water fountains to refill only with instruction for individuals to wash hands or use hand sanitizer after use.
  13. If an individual becomes ill at the establishment have a plan for a room or space where the person can be isolated until transferred home or to a health care facility and provide a mask, if available and tolerated.
  14. For contact tracing purposes, to the extent practicable, establishments should maintain a record including one name and contact information per household group/travel party.
    1. Based on current scientific knowledge, a close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. An individual is also considered a close contact if they provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19, had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them), shared eating or drinking utensils, or if the person sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on them.
  15. Establishments should promptly notify the Maine DHHS, CDC or any local health official if 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. 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. To the extent possible, use contactless dispensers in food service areas. 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.
    3. Use of prepackaged food and beverages is encouraged.
    4. Masks do not need to be worn while an individual is actively eating or drinking.
  17. Retail spaces should follow state guidance on safe operation of retail businesses.
  18. 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).
  19. To limit staff contact with trash, encourage all guests to dispose of their trash at the end of the performance/movie in the appropriate receptacles.
  20. Ensure appropriate time between showings for cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas in the venue.
  21. 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.
  22. Enforce safety guidelines for all events in the venue.

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 guests.
  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 physical 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 mask and gloves and have access to a hand washing or 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 capacity limits, intermission may have to be longer than before to allow time for physically distanced patron movement. Given these issues, shorter shows with no intermission are encouraged.

Ticketing

  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 adopting touchless ticket scanning, during which the patron retains the ticket or electronic device during scanning.

Seating

  1. During seating procedures, eliminate close contact while escorting patrons to seats. Consider high-visibility aisle and seat signage to facilitate self-service seating.
  2. To avoid crowding in common areas, stagger arrivals and departures to the extent practicable.
    1. If possible, load auditoriums 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.
  3. In seated venues, limit seating to allow for at least six feet of physical distance between household groups/travel parties. This could be accomplished by requiring empty seats between groups and limiting seating to every other row.
  4. In general admissions venues, take steps to remind patrons of physical 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 mask policies.
    3. Consider having the performer(s) reinforce physical distancing and mask policies during the event.

Restrooms

  1. Limit restroom occupancy for group restrooms to accommodate physical distancing. Avoid formation of waiting lines outside of restrooms.
  2. Clean and disinfect restrooms on a regular and scheduled basis.
  3. Post handwashing signs in all restrooms.

Transactions

  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 regularly. Hand sanitizer should be made available for visitors before and after transactions.

Technical Staff

  1. Sound and light board spaces within an audience should be blocked off with a perimeter of at least 6 feet surrounding the board and operator.
  2. 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 mask, wash or sanitize hands before and after interaction).
  3. All tech equipment should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.

Performers/Artists

  1. Performance groups—meaning any 2 or more individuals performing together—must wear masks and maintain physical distancing at all times.
  2. Consider maintaining 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.
  3. Consider developing a testing strategy for performers and staff that includes getting tested for COVID-19 prior to, and again a few days after, beginning a series of rehearsals and performances with a certain group.
  4. Artists travelling from outside of the state must adhere to all out-of-state travel guidelines as described in the Moving Maine Forward plan.
  5. Consider producing performances with smaller ensembles.
  6. 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.
  7. Because singing is a higher risk activity, well-fitting, three-layer, surgical-style masks are recommended as opposed to a cloth mask.
  8. Where possible, install barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles from vocalists and brass and woodwind instruments. Set up bands and orchestras to maximize physical distancing between musicians. Consider installing sneeze guards/mute shields between musicians, if possible.
  9. In indoor settings, performances that include singing or playing of brass or woodwind instruments must not take place at times when patrons may be eating or drinking.
  10. Avoid interaction between performers and audiences. Consider eliminating any components of the performance during which performers go into the audience or audience members are encouraged to come on stage.
  11. Hairstylists and makeup artists should follow the guidance included in the Personal Services checklist.
  12. Consider limiting visitors (e.g., performers’ friends or family). If visitors are allowed, they must follow masking and distancing guidelines.

Special Considerations for Museums

  1. Use remote ticketing options to manage capacity limitations if possible. Consider admission by advanced registration only. Ticket options with timed entry and/or time limits for visits are encouraged.
  2. It may be challenging to maintain physical distancing with large tour groups. Tours that combine individuals from different household groups/travel parties into the same tour group are strongly discouraged. Tour guides must maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from visitors.
  3. Discontinue the use of equipment lent to visitors unless it can be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  4. Consider removing interactive or “hands-on” exhibit components. If interactive exhibit components are used, install hand sanitizer near these spaces and post signage requesting the visitors sanitize their hands before and after interacting with the exhibit.
  5. Playgrounds can be used with appropriate care. Post signage advising the use of hand sanitizer both before and after use of the playground and maintaining physical distancing as much as possible.

Special Considerations for Children’s Programming

Children’s programming presents unique challenges related to the highly interactive nature of activities and the difficulty of having children maintain appropriate physical distance. In addition to the health and safety measures already covered in this document, consider the following measures:

  1. To support physical distancing between household groups, consider using advanced reservations only, instituting time limits for visits, and/or limiting exhibits to one household group/travel party at a time.
  2. Place signage throughout children’s programming areas asking visitors to supervise and monitor the physical distancing of their children.
  3. Strongly encourage patrons to sanitize their hands before and after interacting with exhibits.
  4. Remove or modify shared objects (e.g., golf balls, play food) that cannot be adequately and regularly cleaned and disinfected. Request that guests wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after touching shared objects.
  5. In exhibits that include tight spaces, consider limiting use to one household group/travel party at a time.
  6. All visitors age 5 and older are required to wear a face covering. Masks are strongly encouraged for children ages 2 to 4.

COVID-19 Prevention Form

In order to open, if you have not already done so, please 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 business.answers@maine.gov or 1-800-872-3838.