Los Angeles – Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, issued a statement following media reports that Utah has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in the weeks following the reopening of businesses in the state.
"The surge of COVID-19 cases in Utah in the weeks following businesses starting to reopen is deeply troubling,” said Gail Gabler, Western Regional Director of Actors’ Equity Association. “This increase is a sobering reminder of why we must let science guide our decision making and safety plans before theaters open and we go back to work. Equity is continuing to work closely with our public health consultant, Dr. David Michaels, to find a safe path for Equity members to return to work.”
While Utah reopening has put businesses in difficult positions, many Utah theaters have made the right decision, voluntarily postponing their seasons to protect the safety of their workers and audience.
Equity has been working to protect the safety of its members from COVID-19 since before the pandemic caused widespread closures nationwide, making its first public statement on March 2 that staff were making plans to prepare for a possible pandemic, quickly calling to postpone Equity auditions and asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to put worker safety first as the mayor considered whether to limit public gatherings to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Notably, Equity hired Dr. David Michaels, the former head of OSHA during the Obama administration, to serve as health and safety consultant for the union. Dr. Michaels has so far released a memo stipulating the four conditions that must be met before theaters should consider resuming production.
Equity’s other work regarding the coronavirus includes advocacy to increase unemployment and COBRA coverage and launching the Curtain Up Fund to provide members with emergency financial relief.
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
June 9, 2020