COVID-19 safety rules and guidance for arts, screen and culture in NSW
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- Arts and culture COVID-Safe
- COVID-19 Public Health Orders
- COVID-19 Safety Plans
- SafeWork Advice for professional performing arts organisations
- COVID-19 resources for the arts and cultural sector
- Create Connects webinars
- Audience Outlook Monitor
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Stay up-to-date with information on COVID-19 in New South Wales via the NSW Health website.
For information on workplace safety, please visit SafeWork.
On 1 July 2020, Public Health Orders in NSW were eased, allowing most businesses including arts, culture and entertainment venues in NSW to operate with the provision of 4 metres per person physical distancing protocols in place. (Under new rules effective from 16 October 2020, hospitality venues can have one person for every 2 square metres for outdoor areas).
NSW Health is the NSW Government body responsible for issuing and modifying Public Health Orders, and developing guidelines and COVID-19 Safety Plans to assist the reopening of industries in NSW.
As the public health conditions of COVID-19 are dynamic and subject to change at any time, Create NSW has made this online resource to be updated with new material as it is released.
All NSW arts, culture and entertainment organisations should follow NSW Health guidelines rather than guidelines produced in other parts of Australia.
COVID-19 Safety Plans are comprehensive checklists designed by NSW Health and approved by the Chief Health Officer. The plans provide clear directions on how businesses and organisations should fulfil their obligations under Public Health Orders to minimise risk of transmission of COVID-19 on their premises.
Under current NSW Public Health Orders, most NSW arts and cultural organisations/business that are open to the public must complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Although there is no standard COVID-19 Safety Plan template for the arts and cultural sector, there are Industry Guidelines by NSW Health and SafeWork that can be used as basic guides:
- NSW Government Guide to become a COVID Safe Business
- Safework NSW How to stay safe at work during the COVID-19 pandemic
Create NSW advises all organisations to look at current Public Health Orders alongside relevant industry guidelines from NSW Health when drafting a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
Create NSW cannot process or handle exemptions for the sector.
Areas covered in COVID-19 Safety Plans
The following areas must be addressed in your COVID-19 Safety Plan:
- Wellbeing of Staff and Visitors/Audiences/Artists/Performers/Students etc
including a protocol for staff who are unwell, and displaying conditions of entry/participation.
- Physical Distancing – including management of venue capacity, the management of gatherings and protocols for artform-specific work, face mask requirements.
- Hygiene and Cleaning – including ensuring bathroom services are regularly cleaned, and hand washing facilities are supplied/maintained.
- Record Keeping – including a method of keeping information of attendees to your venue/workplace for 28 days.
Each artform your organisation presents or supports will have different conditions placed upon it for reopening, and different variables around the amount of people able to gather at one time. However, it is important to start developing flexible plans that can be modified as Public Health Orders are changed and types of work are authorised to recommence.
Public Health Orders updates
Stay up-to-date with the NSW Government’s Public Health Orders (PHO) and restrictions. Please refer to PHO information when developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan as it may contain clarifications relating to your particular venue, organisation or business.
Guidelines and checklists for preparing your COVID-19 Safety Plan will be prepared and updated by NSW Health shortly before or at the time that Public Health Orders restrictions evolve for different businesses, services and industries over the coming months.
Registering as a COVID Safe organisation or business
Once your COVID-19 Safety Plan is complete, you may register your organisation/business with the NSW Government as COVID Safe. For some businesses/organisations, it is mandatory to register as COVID-19 Safe. Other businesses and organisations are encouraged to register as COVID Safe to show their patrons and visitors that they are keeping up the highest standards to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
This advice may be useful for organisations intending to stage productions that include singing, and close contact dancing, performing and acting.
Professional performance organisations are workplaces and are subject to work health and safety legislation. Any person conducting a business or undertaking productions has responsibilities under work health and safety legislation and is required to consult with others to manage the risk. Work, health and safety principles should be applied to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among performers, staff and audiences, for example, through increased physical distancing and improved ventilation in indoor settings.
The onus is on professional performance organisations, as employers, in consultation with their staff, to develop and implement appropriate and comprehensive COVID-19 plans, and ensure compliance with such plans.
Purpose-built venues and their associated permanent workplaces may have an opportunity to implement specific work practices and engineering controls that may not be viable for infrequent performances in a community setting.
These tailored controls may help augment the approach to meeting the necessary public health outcomes. Where tailored controls are employed, NSW Health recommends that organisations obtain specialist professional advice to verify the effectiveness of measures.
Below are some links to resources and advice for safely managing specific venues and artforms during COVID-19. Please note, current NSW Public Health Orders must prevail over any contradictory/conflicting advice in these resources.
Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, drive-in cinemas, live performance venues
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for small bars (live music).
- Restrictions were eased further on 28 September 2020. Theatres, cinemas and concert halls across NSW can increase capacity up to 50%. Watch Create Connects webinar: Live performance venues: 50% capacity & NSW Health answer your questions. Presented on Monday 28 September 2020.
- Watch Create Connects webinar: New advice for theatres & COVID-Safe check-in tool. Presented on Monday 28 September 2020.
- Watch Create Connects webinar: Information for live performance venues: COVID-19 Safety Plans and reopening. Presented on Monday 29 June 2020.
- Live Entertainment Industry Forum COVID-19 guidelines.
- Live Performance Australia resources.
- Best practice example: Sydney Opera House reopening plan presentation.
- Frequently asked questions relating to the cinemas, theatres, concert halls and drive-in cinemas guidelines.
- Results of Create NSW’s Live Performance Venue sector survey (July 2020) in NSW. Organisations were asked about reopening timeframes as well issues of concern.
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for health and dance studios, and martial arts training facilities.
- Ausdance COVID-19 guidance notes
Group singing and choirs
- From 23 November 2020, up to 30 singers will be permitted outdoors, subject to COVID-safe requirements (the limit of 5 remains for indoor venues). The audience or congregation may participate in the singing, but anyone 12 years or older must wear a mask.
- Please see the NSW Health Advice for group singing. This information is accurate as of 23 November 2020 and will be updated as advice changes.
- Watch the Create Connects webinar COVID-Safe advice for singing – from rehearsal to production. Presented 12 October 2020. Download the presentation.
Bands, orchestras, musical groups and wind/woodwind instrument playing
- Please see the updated NSW Health Advice for wind instrument playing. This information is accurate as of 1 September 2020 and will be updated as advice changes.
- Watch Create Connects webinar: COVID-Safe advice for bands, orchestras, and musical groups. Presented 12 October 2020. Download the presentation.
Outdoor music rehearsal and performance
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for outdoor music rehearsal and performance.
- Restrictions were further eased on 16 October 2020. Up to 500 people can attend outdoor seated music performances and rehearsals for venues complying with the four square metre rule. This was previously a total of 20 people.
- Restrictions were further eased on 23 November 2020 with an increased capacity for controlled outdoor events (including concerts) that are ticketed and held in an enclosed or fenced area. Up to 3000 people can attend with 1 person per 2 square metres if assigned a seat, or 1 person per 4 square metres if seated in an allocated seated area (e.g. where the grass is marked or on picnic rugs).
- Live Entertainment Industry Forum COVID-19 guidelines.
- Live Performance Australia resources.
Museums and galleries
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan, register and stay in business for museums and galleries.
- COVID-19 Safety Plan template for museums and galleries.
- COVID-19 Safety Plan example from Newcastle Museum.
- COVID-19 Safety Plan example from Art Gallery of NSW.
- Watch Create Connects webinar: Information for museums and galleries: COVID-19 Safety Plans and reopening. Presented on Friday 29 May 2020.
- Non-branded COVID-19 assets for museums and galleries (Acrobat Pro required to edit). A copy of the Art Gallery of NSW Staff Handbook is available on request. Please contact email@example.com.
- Results of Create NSW’s Museums and Galleries sector survey (June 2020). Organisations were asked about reopening timeframes as well issues of concern.
- The State Library of NSW provides advice regarding libraries.
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan for libraries.
Other venues and spaces
- Resources and guidance on how to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plans for non-food markets including artisan, clothing and craft markets; office and retail spaces; pubs, clubs and small bars (live music); community centres and halls, function centres, corporate functions and events.
- COVID-Safe advice for bands, orchestras, and musical groups. Presented Monday 12 October 2020. Download the presentation.
- COVID-Safe advice for singing – from rehearsal to production. Presented Monday 12 October 2020. Download the presentation.
- Live performance venues: 50% capacity & NSW Health answer your questions. Presented Friday 9 October 2020.
- New advice for theatres & COVID-Safe check-in tool. Presented Monday 28 September 2020.
- Information for live performance venues: COVID-19 Safety Plans and reopening. Presented Monday 29 June 2020.
- Information for museums and galleries: COVID-19 Safety Plans and reopening – Presented on Friday 29 May 2020.
The Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard is freely accessible and designed to help artists and cultural organisations of all kinds to make the best possible decisions about re-opening and understand how audiences feel about attending events again. The survey data has come from over 39,000 (23,730 from Phase 1 and 15,636 Phase 2) Australian respondents.
For further information, or to discuss your COVID-19 Safety Plan, please contact:
Manager, Project Awake
firstname.lastname@example.org +61 2 8289 6447
Image: Newcastle Museum. Image courtesy the museum.
Published: 16 June 2020