Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak
We are encouraging members to carry out risk assessments around the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. We think it’s too soon to anticipate how effective the containment measures will be and how the organisers and producers of arts and entertainment events might best respond.
The HSE poster below clearly summarises the preventative measures that we should all take as individuals and as employers, to make sure our organisation is doing everything possible to minimise the risks to employees, visiting company artists and technicians, and audience members.
In addition to employer responsibilities, arts centres, theatres, venues and festivals have a responsibility to their community too. Every effort to prevent the further spread of the virus by putting in place preventative measures and good hygiene practices for visitors, volunteers and audience members.
Members may already be putting in place plans to cover situations where events are cancelled due to exposure / potential exposure to the virus or other unforeseen events. You’re probably already thinking about the contractual, payment, insurance, ticket refund implications of cancelling or deferring performances and events and you probably have many more questions.
Send them to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll get expert opinions and advice in the coming weeks and talk to our partners, including TheatreNI and IETM, and share this with the membership.
Production companies may have already planned national and international tours. As the international situation is evolving so quickly, it’s advisable to follow the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade Travel Advice. If you have to cancel international travel due to the risk posed by Covid-19 or your flight has been cancelled due to an outbreak near your destination, read advice from the European Consumer Centre. If you are traveling to the European Union, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card.
For national tours, talk to the company and colleagues to monitor ticket sales and share any relevant information.
Directors and managers of our member organisations, like any other employer, have a duty of care to employees. In addition to putting in place a range of preventative measures, we should be aware of HR issues before they arise:
Absences If an employee is instructed to stay away from work, be familiar with the sickness absence and pay procedures specified. It’s probably not a legal requirement to continue to pay that person, but you may decide to do so in the interests of goodwill.
Precautionary Paid Leave If you are particularly concerned about any employee (for instance if it is known that they have had contact with someone known to have the virus) then you might consider a brief period of suspension on precautionary grounds, probably on full pay.
Discrimination, bullying and harassment Remember extra hygiene measures must be required of all employees. Be alert to the possibility of ‘banter’ between employees about the virus which, if related to someone’s nationality or ethnicity, could be construed as harassment.
You may have already checked your insurance cover and found that it is unlikely to cover cancellations or postponements due to unforeseen events including the Coronavirus outbreak as well as adverse weather such as the storms and flooding in the last few months. We’ll talk to EventInsure and share their updates with you.