ABTT Guidance Notes on COVID-19

Guidance Note 101: COVID-19 Risk Assessments for Returning to Work in Places of Entertainment
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 102 etc)

Guidance Note 102: COVID-19 Returning to Work Support Information
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 101)

Guidance Note 103: COVID-19 Production and Technical Departments Safe Working Procedures
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 101 etc)

Guidance Note 104: COVID-19 Returning to Work in Places of Entertainment: Guidance for Safe Working in Rehearsal & Production Environments
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 101 etc)

Guidance Note 105: Reopening of Places of Entertainment – Systems Inspections and Audit Checklist
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 101 etc)

Guidance Note 106: Reopening of Places of Entertainment – Fire Inspection Checklist
(To be read in conjunction with ABTT Guidance Note 101 etc)

Downloadable Resources on getting back to work:

The below documents and links are working documents provided by organisations and companies attempting to work safely in our Industry. These documents must only be taken in the context of which the companies have created them.  While the ABTT would like to ensure these documents are shared and available for the public, we must emphasise that these are in development and should not be considered as codes of practice or standards which the ABTT as we usually create and publish. We cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the content, though the ABTT intend to contribute towards national guidelines in the future.

HSE Issued 6th April 2021 –  Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions: Returning to work safely – business considerations

CIBSE information on emerging from lock-down

CIBSE information on Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 and HVAC Systems

DCMS Document on Working Safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

DCMS given Performing Arts the green light to resume outdoors on July 11th

Document on Air conditioning and ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak

Parliamentary Questions and mentions in debates on COVID & Theatre

Pirate Crew Virus Protection V2 updated 5th June 2020

PLASA Returning to Work Considerations July 21

ROH CV19 Briefing note general working

ROH CV19 Briefing note

ROH CV19 Risk assessment Artists

ROH CV19 Risk assessment General

Risk assessment St Thomas tour performance COVID 2020 (DRAFT)

Security: Counter Terrorism Policing have created a new toolkit containing advice on security minded comms, with internal and external assets to help you communicate effectively about countering terrorism with your staff and customers.
Performing Arts DCMS guidance had some recent amendments with the government reversing two of the changes that were made to the last revision. Removing the requirement to keep 2m distance at the edge of auditorium balconies and reverting the requirement to collect contact details for all audience members back to just the lead booker for Test & Trace purposes.

Costume and Wardrobe Covid-19 Resources:

CITA have issued guidelines for costume workers returning to work.  The Guidelines are in 4 parts and should be read together.
More information on the below documents can be found here.

Please see the Guidelines below:

  1. Costume for Theatre & Live Events Introduction and Summary Guidance
  2. Costume for Theatre and Live events return to work safely Covid19 guidelines
  3. Appendix A – Government guidelines
  4. Appendix B – Glossary of terms and Supporting Documents

Other relevant documents:

Bectu Costume Cleaning Brochure

International Ultraviolet Association Inc – UV Disinfection for COVID-19

Method Statements on Covid Safe practices in Costume & Wardrobe: This explains methods that can be used for high risk activities including fittings, quick changes and laundry

Online COVID-19 Resources:

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) (updated 21st October 2020)

Coronavirus Recovery Updates and Guidance – available for SOLT Members

Coronavirus Recovery Updates and Guidance – available for UK Theatre Members

Working Safely During Coronavirus – Guidance

Coronavirus Government Guidance Library

Pearle* Re-opening Live Performance

Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theatre coming from Harvard

Performance Buildings in a Post-Pandemic World

A full assessment of the Covid risk of playing wind instruments

Article: How can we resume choir practice without spreading coronavirus?

TheatreMeansBusiness.info  is an online platform created by SOLT & UK Theatre which highlights a range of live and recorded webinars to equip the theatre industry with the tools to begin rebuilding after the COVID-19 lockdown ends.

Call for evidence on Life After Covid: The long-term implications of the pandemic for our economy and our society

OVERTURE+, a new streaming platform that revolutionizes content sharing between theatre producers and presenters
UK Theatre are pleased to welcome OVERTURE+ into Partner membership. This new streaming platform allows content creators to share their performances with participating presenters, allowing them to “book” a digital season featuring professional productions from around the world. Producers and presenters split revenue from ticket sales, expanding their reach to new audiences while collaboratively supporting each other.

Founded in partnership between Tony Award® winning producers GFour Productions, who last month collected 23 Tony® nominations from their collective shows, OVERTURE+ currently has affiliate theatres throughout North America. By launching in the United Kingdom, OVERTURE+ provides a unique opportunity for British organisations & content creators to present their digital content to new international territories, as well as using the platform’s technology and security to stream their own live or recorded shows to customers.

Members of UK Theatre have early access to Benjamin Monk, Director of International Development, via ben@overture.plus or can arrange a demonstration directly with COO Ashley Dinges here.

SOLT & UK Theatres ‘See It Safely’ toolkit
This includes our safety mark, audience information video, website copy and signage that you can use to show your audiences that your venue is COVID-19 compliant. The toolkit is available to SOLT and UK Theatre member venues. To receive the toolkit, you will need to complete this form to show that your venue has taken the necessary measures and is operating in line with the Government guidelines and Public Health guidance. If you have any issues with the form, please email kayley@soltukt.co.uk

We thought it would be helpful to show you what is included in the See It Safely toolkit so you can get an understanding of the scheme before applying. Please download the Powerpoint here which you can share with colleagues.

SOLT & UK Theatres have released a COVID-19 FAQ document which supports the official DCMS guidance.

SOLT/UK Theatre and Equity Creatives Agreements (Designers, Directors and Choreographers) – COVID-19 Variation Agreement
SOLT/UK Theatre and Equity have worked together to agree a variation to the agreements for set and costume designers, lighting designers, choreographers and directors, which is designed to assist with the recovery of the industry and to provide members with more confidence when looking to contract creatives for future productions during these uncertain times. Other than stated in the document, all of the other terms and conditions remain as set out in the relevant agreements.

UK Theatre/MU Agreement – COVID-19 Variation Agreement
UK Theatre and the MU have concluded a Variation Agreement which provides for modifications to the UK Theatre/MU Agreement. The changes are designed to enable Theatres to re-open as soon as is practicable, and to help the industry rebuild and re-establish rewarding, sustainable and secure employment.
Other than stated in the document, all of the other terms and conditions remain as set out in the UK Theatre/MU Agreement.

Relevant Seminars, Recordings and more:

ABTT Theatre Show Seminars 2020

In light of the postponement of the 42nd ABTT Theatre Show until 2021, the ABTT felt that it was necessary to mark the occasion and provide our usual attendees with something to commemorate this event during the current pandemic. As such, ABTT Trustee Mig Burgess and ABTT Administrator Elysia Moore curated a series of 10 online seminar/webinars running over Wednesday 10th – Thursday 11th June 2020. These included Health and Safety Post-COVID, Technical Training in a New World, Hair, Makeup and Costume and more.

ABTT Seminars 2020

Following the success of the ABTT June Seminars, ABTT Trustee Mig Burgess and ABTT Administrator Elysia Moore decided to curate a second series online seminar/webinars running throughout July – September 2020. These covered new subjects, as well as revisiting popular topics such as Safety, Socal Distancing in Theatres, Live Streaning., Sustainability and Producing work during COVID-19.


Professor Cath Noakes studies how air moves and the infection risk associated with different ventilation systems. Early in the pandemic, she was invited to join the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE and asked to study the transmission routes for Covid-19. In July, together with many other scientists, she urged governments around the world and the World Health Organisation to recognise that Covid-19 could be transmitted in tiny particles in the air, even if the risk of getting infected in this way was much smaller than the risk from larger particles that travel less far. Her research highlights the importance of good ventilation as a way to stop the spread of infection in indoor environments. Being in a well ventilated space can reduce the risk of inhaling tiny airborne pathogens by 70%. Cath talks to Jim Al-Khalili about her journey from studying industrial processes to infection risk, her work on the airborne transmission of diseases and the challenge of designing buildings that are both well ventilated and energy efficient.

Reopening roadmaps – across the UK

Pearle* Re-opening Live Performance

‘The following are indicative dates only – conditional on 10 September review: With effect from Monday 14 September: Other indoor entertainment venues (e.g. theatres, live music/concert venues) following guidance such as with physical distancing requirements.’

See page 6 for the flow chart. These indicative dates will be delayed if the status of the epidemic deteriorates in Scotland.

The Scottish government on Friday 21 August published their guidance for the performing arts and venues sector both professional and non-professional and it sets out the expectations on what businesses and organisations of all sizes and sub-sectors need to consider as part of their planning for restart.

  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland’s recovery plan can be found here. Again the details of Phase Three, which includes theatres, can be seen here on page 5. In addition, yesterday Arts Council NI published their guidance manual, to support the safe reopening of arts performance venues, closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can download the manual.The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today has also opened the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP) in a second call to arts and cultural organisations across Northern Ireland.
  • Wales – Guidance for a phased return can be seen here and reopening guidance for tourism and hospitality can be seen here.
    Find out if you are eligible for support from the Welsh Cultural Recovery Fund

    The Eligibility Checker for the Cultural Recovery Fund went live on Tuesday 1 September. There will also be a £7 million fund for freelancers to support individuals in the sector who have been impacted by the pandemic. Please visit the eligibility checker to find more detail for this fund.
    The Welsh Government have published guidelines on performing and rehearsing in the arts sector and taking part in the performing arts. At present Theatres and Concert Halls are unable to open, this guidance has been developed to set out principles to be considered in order to support the return to work.
  • England – on the 5th November England went back in to national lock-down and Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions for hours not worked and this extension will be reviewed in January.Similarly, support for workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.As a reminder, you can see the stages plan here from government on 11 July. They also updated their guide to working safely. Their Roadmap can be found here.

Performing Arts Guidance – Updates
Two key changes were made in the regulations and guidance on 14th October:

  1. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls will be mandated to either collect Test and Trace data or display the QR code for the Test and Trace App. Whilst some venues are already voluntary collecting these details as per the guidance, it will now become mandatory for these venues to do so.
  1. In Tier 1 (Medium) and Tier 2 (High) theatres, concert halls and cinemas will be exempt from requiring people to be seated whilst ordering food and drink. This will be a change to the current table service regulations which will remain in force until 14th October.


Relevant Media Coverage:

Arts industry welcomes support package
Sonia Friedman: Arts Theatre Government Rescue Package
How theatre can reopen

Scotland’s £97m fund
Northern Ireland support package
Money for Wales: Support Package
BBC: Government support
BBC: Support package vital

Oliver Dowden – Emergency money won’t save every job
Theatre boss response to support package
Outdoor theatre but no panto: Christmas Panto in doubt
NY Times: UK announces $2 billion bailout to help the Arts afloat:
Interview with Michael Harrison: Panto Boss gives Dowden a deadline to save crucial festive season.
C4 News – Oliver Dowden: 1.5 billion support package by UK Government
C4 News Kwame Kwei-Armah: The economics of social distancing still only allow a 30% capacity – Young Vic