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Ohio Releases Guidelines For Performing Arts To Reopen

Aronoff Center for the Arts, May 2019
Andy Chow
Aronoff Center for the Arts, May 2019

The state has released a reopening plan for the performing arts which takes into account the many variables that come with live theater and music, such as food and intermission. However, a final health order has yet to be signed.

The rules mandate that actors, musicians, and other performers must wear a mask at all times and keep six feet apart when not rehearsing or performing.

Producers, directors, and other people not on stage must always wear a mask. The mask requirement has certain exemptions such as for medical reasons.

The rules limit indoor theaters to no more than 300 people or 15% of the fixed seating capacity, whichever is less. As for outdoor theaters, the maximum number of people who can attend is 1,500 or 15% of the fixed seating capacity, also whichever is less.

Brass and woodwind musicians are required to be spaced even further apart since, according to the guidelines "playing some musical instruments involves breathing deeply and expelling air forcefully, the risk of airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be increased."

Janet Chen, CEO of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, says they believe they can reopen and keep people safe.

"Artists, we're creative people and I think many of us have come up with really proactive and creative solutions so we can balance that safety with the artistry and still bring music, in our case, to the community," says Chen.

The audience must avoid gathering during intermissions and the food vendors must follow the same rules as restaurants.

A health order with a start date has yet to be signed. Gov. Mike DeWine's office says the details are still being worked out.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.