top of page

COVID-19 Safety at work | Pre Production for Costume Designers, Supervisors, and Assistants / Buyers

COVID-19 Safety at work | Pre Production for Costume Designers, Supervisors, and Assistants / Buyers - A working document

Further to our Scene-change event earlier in June; Designers in discussion with Costume Supervisors -  A working document is now being developed by UK Costume Supervisors in response to new safety guidelines required for safer practises & structures to minimise risk The working document drawn up by Costume Supervisors is attached below.  Please feel free to take a look. Any additional thoughts or points to add to this document would be greatly received.  To receive the the document as a PDF or to share thoughts please email us at:


Theatre Recovery –COVID-19 safety at work | Production Costume Process Freelance Designer, Supervisor, Maker Perspective Friday, 12.06.2020 #scenechange CITA

  • -  Freelance Production Costume Supervisors

  • -  Freelance Theatre Designers

  • -  Freelance Costume Makers

  • -  Freelance Costume Buyer/ Assistants

We have to assume that for any work to start, Costume and all theatre departments will be governed by Government guidelines. Theoretically, productions can only commence rehearsals when it is safe to do so. Therefore, if it's safe for audiences, actors, wardrobe dressers, Wigs Hair & Makeup and stage management to do their jobs, then costume shouldn't be any different.

If there is a return to work while social distancing still applies, then new safe working practices will need to be established - below are some of the safety measures that would need to be considered / implemented. These measures have been discussed with costume professionals but it would be beneficial to continue these discussions with SOLT/ UKTheatre & obtain more professional medical guidance.


  • Adequate supply of PPE to be provided by the producers - (Sterile or latex gloves, face masks, face shields) to be worn during measurement sessions and costume fittings - these to be provided and worn for all persons involved in fittings with actors where they will be closer than 2m for more than a few seconds.

  • Fittings should not be scheduled back to back. There must be enough time between fittings to allow sanitization and to prevent the schedule from getting backed up with many Actors waiting to be fitted. A separate waiting area of actors pre fitting may be required.

  • If fittings are scheduled after a rehearsal or warm up time must be allowed for the actor/dancer to shower before fitting commences, extra time just be scheduled to accommodate this.

  • Simultaneous fittings to be held in bigger spaces ( ie dance Studios sized spaces) if space is an issue then simultaneous fittings should not happen.

  • Fittings must run to time - punctuality will be essential - actors & makers should arrive at least 10 mins before fitting time to be able to prepare & be ready to start fitting on time. Fittings will take longer.

  • How long is it appropriate/safe to be in a fitting? Guidance as to a maximum time limit on a single fitting would be useful

  • Hand Santitiser and antibacterial surface wipes to be provided in fitting rooms and made available for each employee along with washing facilities .

  • All involved should wash hands or apply hand sanitizer before and after each fitting.

  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces, door handles, etc. in fitting areas after each fitting.

  • Keep the number of people to minimum in each fitting - Where appropriate use of zoom/facetime etc should be encouraged.

  • Parking for makers or courier provided if makers unable to use public transport

  • Travel expenses for makers negotiated into fee/budget

  • More time allocated for makers to produce costumes

  • After fittings, when Actors have removed and returned costume pieces, they should be placed in separate bags and handled by as few people as possible. - Garments to be quarantined for 72 hrs and safely sterilise after fittings to eliminate bacteria, viruses and allergies causing contaminates. Cleaned using guidelines of tried & tested sanitation methods. Guidelines to be determined and medically approved.

Work Space / Additional Equipment/ Sterilisation

  • Distribute Risk Assessment and Safety guidelines for locations to all departments prior to any costume teams start on site to commence work at temporary hired and permanent spaces.

  • Designated clean, well ventilated space that is solely for the production costume team available throughout the Rehearsals, Tech and Preview period or as required. The size of the allocated workspace must be adequate to reflect the size of the costume team to maintain social distancing where possible. This should be clearly stated as part of our contracts with the producers/buildings.

  • Fitting room separate to costume supervisors' work area to reduce the number of people in the room together. Fitting rooms need to be appropriately sized: Space for social distancing and good ventilation, limited number of persons in fitting to max 4; Actor, Designer, Supervisor, Costumier.

  • Regular professional cleaning of all areas daily

  • Separate “Quarantine” space to be provided to hold; purchased costumes , postage, worn clothing after fittings. Also can be used as a sterilisation area during quarantine.

  • Perspex Screens in busier workroom environments - Assess how many people are deemed safe to work in specific room dimensions. Potential screens at sewing stations in smaller rooms.

  • Full independent risk assessment of temporary spaces hired for rehearsal periods and pre production work.

  • Protocols must be developed for use of the large amount of shared equipment in Costume/Wardrobe Dept. Practically everything is shared, i.e. machines, safety pins, measuring tapes, tags, hangers, garment bags, racks, tables.

  • Quarantine and cleaning procedures need to be developed that account for the multiple surfaces of costumes: porous surfaces include natural and synthetic fibers and leather. Hard surfaces include plastic, metal, rubber and “unknown.” - buttons, zips, armor are “hard” surfaces that may require different cleaning procedures.

  • Production costume departments must have access to laundry facilities during production period (pre Theatre get in and wardrobe handover).

Costume Assistant / Buyers

  • To aid a safer environment for Costume Supervisors, Production companies should consider employing costume assistants for every production. The extra time needed to comply with new safety rules (and shopping queues, longer fittings and prep for example). would make it impossible for a Costume Supervisor to complete all duties in the usual 6 week rehearsal period.

  • Minimise cash floats & paper receipts - possible additional credit card facilities may be required with higher credit limits. Cashless and paperless methods to be promoted as common practise where possible.

  • Returns policies are unknown at this time so this could mean potential higher spends.

  • Buyers should not be pressured into sourcing in unsafe areas.

  • Protocols to be developed regarding the treatment of garments that are not selected during fitting and must be returned to suppliers. Large numbers of garments are returned in current practice, to mail order companies, department stores, high street shops and to rental houses.

  • Buyers/supervisor to avoid the use of public transport, taxi / couriers to be used

Production Scheduling / Time Management ..

  • Scheduling should take into account that routine tasks will take longer due to COVID-19 protocols, requiring longer prep periods.Costume Supervisors and Designers should be given extra pre-production time ahead of rehearsals. Fees should reflect this extra workload.

  • Pre Production scheduling across all departments to be drawn up prior to rehearsal period - an agreed Fitting schedule to be included within Rehearsal Schedule to factor in additional time required efficiently for all departments.


  • Regular COVID 19 testing for all Production team, cast, creatives.

  • Inform and educate all company members and production departments to follow all guidelines and best practises.

  • Transport budget (preferably separate from costume budget) to allow for makers or costume staff who may be unable or unwilling to travel on public transport.

  • Have the ability to continually review our environment and process to ensure current best practises to continually keep production costume teams and company safe.

  • Including a passage in contracts of all freelance costume professionals that expresses no liability will be attributed to us if rehearsals, shows etc need to isolate due to a covid scare or outbreak which seem to result from fittings, costume personal, equipment etc brought onto site.

Photo by Andrej Lišakov

2,416 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page