A total of six entertainment venues in the District will be able to host indoor performances despite the ongoing pandemic, as part of a monthlong pilot program launched by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The first indoor live performances of the pandemic era are supposed to be offered in a restricted manner throughout October, according to Bowser’s announcement that came on Friday.
The criteria requires that venues:
- Sell or distribute tickets in advance of the event;
- Have a maximum of 50 persons, including attendees, performers, staff, and all other persons in the venue;
- Reserve seating with individuals or groups (of no more than six persons) seated at least six feet apart;
- Place seats at least 30 ft. from the stage if there is live singing; otherwise, the seats must be placed at least 20 ft. from the stage;
- Require that guests remain seated during the performance, only leaving as necessary;
- Ensure good ventilation;
- Clean the venue and restrooms in accordance with their plan;
- Maintain a one-way flow of attendees and staff;
- Enforce that, if indoors, the performance must be less than three hours in duration;
- Require the performers to be at least six feet apart and wear masks when not performing;
- Inform their employees of the COVID-19 protocols they have put in place, including a mask or face covering policy and any applicable leave policies;
- Maintain records of all individuals who are in the building during the event;
- Follow all requirements for food retail operations in the District;
- Post signage of their mask or face covering guidelines and physical guides or signs of their social distancing policies; and
- Inform any individual who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to not attend the event.
Frequently used surfaces to be regularly sanitized
Participating venues are required to submit and execute detailed plans for operating and will be monitored closely by the District.
“It’s been a rough road planning and unplanning and planning again, and shuttering and paying some artists part-time, and we kept all the staff on just wondering when we’ve been able to reopen,” said Rebeca Medrano, co-founder of GALA Hispanic Theatre, in an interview with WUSA9.
The theater promises to clean and disinfect the theater, lobby, dressing rooms, and bathrooms with CDC approved products on a daily basis during the run of performances.
In addition, all high-traffic areas, doorknobs, and other communal surfaces such as armrests, banisters, and counters, will be disinfected before and after every performance at GALA.
Guests will be provided with masks, gloves, automated hand sanitizer stations, and disinfecting hand wipes at the lobby. All theater staff/volunteers will be required to wear masks, as well as patrons.
GALA has also installed high efficiency filters in its newly revamped HVAC system.
Here are details of the live music pilot program. Pretty good stipulations. Will start indoors at 6 venues: @CityWineryDC @TeatroGALA @thehamiltondc @kencen @pearlstreetlive @unionstage. 1/ pic.twitter.com/6bcZ8w4Ic4
— Barred in DC (@barredindc) September 26, 2020
The Kennedy Center, which had been closed for six months due to the pandemic, held its first in-person event on September 26. A Time to Sing: An Evening with Renée Fleming and Vanessa Williams was performed at the center’s Opera House.
The center took a number of new safety measures against the spread of COVID-19, as well.
All frequently touched surfaces (door handles, handrails, and armrest surfaces) at the venue are regularly cleaned, and the theaters and restrooms are sanitized.
The number of contact points have been reduced via mobile tickets, encouraged prepaid parking, and eliminated cash transactions.
All the employees at the center undergo health screening before reporting to work and wear a mask or face covering while at work. There are also hand sanitizer stations throughout the area including all building entrances.
Other venues invited to resubmit plans
Despite the fact that the pilot is limited to the six venues named by the mayor, other businesses that offer outdoor entertainment, which have already submitted plans to the city are encouraged to review the criteria and resubmit their plans.
Among these venues are Adams Morgan Partnership BID, Arena Stage, Busboys and Poets, Capitol Riverfront BID, District Wharf, Et Voila Restaurant, Heist Group at the Kennedy Center, and The Bullpen.
The District’s entertainment industry has been dealt a serious blow due to the coronavirus-related closures. Since the city moved into Phase Two, venues have been permitted to apply for waivers as health officials continue to monitor the public health conditions.