COVID-19 Update

Northrop Event COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
Students sit on lawn with Northrop in the background. Both students are wearing masks and sitting six feet apart.

© 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota.

Northrop has taken a number of safety precautions and is following all state and University of Minnesota requirements now that it has reopened. Guests can be assured their health and safety are top priorities and staff have been thoroughly trained and are following the latest protocols. This plan continues to updated as needed and this page reflects those changes.

State of Minnesota Updated Guidelines Feb 13, 2021

General Information

  • The capacity of the Carlson Family Stage is limited to 250 patrons per the recommendations from the Preparedness Plan Requirements Guidance - Seated Entertainment & Meetings.
  • The capacity of the Best Buy Theater is limited to 22 patrons including the speaker.  While 25 percent of the full 168-seat capacity is 42, we are reducing that number to 22 to adhere to the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
  • Occupancies are posted for the Founder’s Room, Seminar Room, study lounges, backstage break room, dressing rooms, and any other appropriate spaces near the entrances of those spaces.

  • All 2020-2021 Northrop Presents performances have been converted to online only experiences with exception of one, which follows all guidelines outlined in this preparedness plan and all guidelines in the Preparedness Plan Requirements Guidance - Seated Entertainment & Meetings.
  • For all in-person Northrop Presents performances, Northrop offers an online alternative to view the performance remotely.
  • Many Northrop Presents performances have been shortened to eliminate intermissions as a way to avoid patrons congregating in lobbies and restrooms.
  • All Northrop films and most engagement activities have been converted to online only experiences until further notice.
  • All in-person events presented by renters of Northrop are required to follow the University of Minnesota’s Sunrise Plan, all guidelines outlined in this preparedness plan, and all guidelines in the Preparedness Plan Requirements Guidance - Seated Entertainment & Meetings.
  • Printed programs have been eliminated and are replaced with digital programs that are emailed to patrons ahead of each performance and also available online.

  • Surdyk’s Café is closed until further notice. When it reopens, Northrop will follow the recommendations of the Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening: Restaurants & Bars.
  • Tables, chairs, benches, and other seating areas have either been removed, moved to accommodate physical distancing guidelines, or marked as unavailable to prevent use, as appropriate.
  • Elevator occupancy is limited per guidance from the National Elevator Industry, Inc. and managed by University of Minnesota’s Facilities Management. Stair use is encouraged.
  • Trash cans are placed at each restroom entrance.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are located inside each building entrance, backstage, and near the ATM/vending machine on the Ground Floor West Side.

  • Northrop is working very closely with the University of Minnesota’s Energy Management on HVAC protocols for the venue and has an updated system following the building’s 2014 reopening.
  • Northrop’s HVAC system is programmed to run continuously to increase total room ventilation and to ventilate per ASHRAE 62.1-2019 Table 6-1. Outdoor air ventilation will be increased beyond ASHRAE 62.1-2019 Table 6-1.
  • Northrop’s demand control ventilation (DCV) and occupancy sensor ventilation controls is disabled.
  • Northrop improved filtration to MERV-13 in accordance with the University’s recommended timeline.

  • Northrop worked very closely with University of Minnesota’s Facilities Management on cleaning protocols for the venue. FM is performing enhanced cleaning for public spaces, including:

    • Each building entry lobby area and venue entrances have a wall mount or stand mount hand sanitizer dispenser installed and refilled regularly.
    • High-touchpoint areas such door push bars, door handles, stair railings, elevator buttons, and other areas are cleaned daily.
    • Water bottle filling stations are cleaned daily.
    • Restrooms are cleaned daily.
    • Vending machines and the ATM are wiped down daily.
  • Facilities Management is cleaning the venue more frequently per the FM Sunrise Support Plan, using approved cleaning supplies.
  • Facilities Management has purchased misters that are used to clean the theater seats, locker rooms, and other areas efficiently.
  • On days with two performances, a minimum of one hour between shows is required for cleaning per the test that FM has completed.
  • Additional trash cans are placed throughout the lobbies to minimize the travel necessary to reach one.

Patron Experience

  • Patrons attending in-person events are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the Stay Safe MN Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist. This checklist is included in the pre-event email, and posted at venue entrances. Upon arrival at Northrop, patrons will be asked to verbally confirm that they have read the Health Screening Checklist and can respond “No” to all questions. Patrons who answer “Yes” to any of the screening questions are advised to go home, stay away from other people, and contact their health care provider.
  • Patrons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 during their visit will be asked to leave the venue.
  • Patrons are required to wear a mask at all times in the building, unless they are under the age of two or it is not recommended for health or physical ability reasons, per the University of Minnesota’s policy on face coverings
  • If a patron arrives without a mask, masks are available at the box office for $1 each.
  • Patrons are reminded to wash hands often, get tested, and stay home when ill or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, maintain physical distancing, and wear a mask.  These reminders are placed on signage throughout the facility and included in the pre-event email.
  • Northrop’s written communications and tickets will encourage patrons who experience COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of a visit to Northrop to get tested and contact the Minnesota Department of Health if they test positive to facilitate contact tracing. Northrop will cooperate fully with University policy and the Minnesota Department of Health for this purpose.

  • Northrop offers flexibility in exchanges and refunds during COVID-19 in an effort to encourage patrons who are ill to stay home. This includes the option to exchange in-person tickets for live-stream tickets, exchange tickets for another performance, donate the value of the tickets, or request a refund.
  • All ticket purchases must be completed prior to arriving at Northrop.  Walk-up sales will not be permitted and patrons will not be allowed to enter the building without a ticket purchased in advance.
  • All patrons are strongly encouraged to use mobile tickets, delivered to their personal devices.
  • Patrons who require physical tickets due to an inability to receive e-tickets will receive their tickets via USPS, unless the lead time is too short to mail tickets. In that case, physical tickets are available for pick-up at the Box Office Will Call.
  • Patrons needing ticketing assistance upon arrival to the venue will be directed to the Box Office.
  • Northrop’s policies and guidelines are clearly posted on the ticketing site for review during the ticket purchasing process.
  • Northrop is using floor decals to demarcate the Box Office lines and ensure 6-foot physical distancing between patrons while waiting.
  • Group sales are not available until further notice.

  • Patrons receive a pre-event email on two to three occasions prior to each performance based on the type of performance.
  • Pre-event email includes the following in addition to standard information:
    • Patron responsibilities:
      • Face mask requirement.
      • Health check requirement.
      • Refund or ticket exchange information.
      • Arrival and building updates.
      • Reminder to bring a personal water bottle for filling if desired.
    • Patron arrival information:
      • Patrons needing ADA accommodations should enter the building through the Ground Floor East entrance.
      • Patrons needing Box Office assistance should enter through the Ground Floor East or West entrances.
      • Patrons with seats on the Ground Floor East or Orchestra East levels should enter the building through the Ground Floor East entrance.
      • Patrons with seats on the Ground Floor West or Orchestra West levels should enter the building through the Ground Floor West entrance.
      • Patrons with seats on the Presidents Circle East, Scholars East, or Gallery East levels should enter through the Plaza East entrance.
      • If your seats are on the Presidents Circle West, Scholars West, or Gallery West levels, should enter the building through the Plaza West doors.
  • Patrons are encouraged to pre-purchase parking to minimize contact at parking facilities.

  • All performances will have assigned seating. No “general admission”, events are permitted. Patrons must remain seated throughout their attendance at the venue.
  • Patrons are seated by household, in groups of four or fewer, with at least six feet of space between groups in all directions. The Box Office staff will assign seats approximately one week in advance of each performance.
  • Doors to the Carlson Family Stage will open one hour prior to each performance to allow for ample seating time.
  • Once in the building, ushers will direct guests entering through the Ground Floor East and West doors as follows:
    • Rows AA-G are directed to the Ground Floor theater entrances.
    • Rows H-Z are directed up the curved stairs to Level 1 entrances.
  • Once in the building, ushers will direct guests entering through the Plaza doors to the south stairwells and up to the appropriate level.
  • The first two rows of the theater are not available for seating in order to maintain the required minimum 12 feet of distance between the performance area and the audience.
  • Patrons attending general admission events will be seated by the usher staff on a first- come, first-served basis that accounts for physical distancing.
  • The 150 capacity physically distanced seating map ensures that no patrons will have to cross in front of other patrons to get to their seats.
  • After the event, patrons are asked to remain in their seats until dismissed. Ushers will dismiss patrons from the rear rows first, working down to the front rows last. This method of dismissal will be announced prior to the start of the performance.


  • All employees have been trained on the University’s Sunrise Plan and this preparedness plan prior to the resumption of events.
  • Employees have been provided with the full plan to be read prior to their first shift. Prior to each shift, each employee group has been trained on their job specific portion of the Northrop event COVID-19 preparedness plan in preparation for that shift.
  • In person pre-event meetings and training sessions are limited to a maximum of 25 workers at a time. Meetings and training sessions must be held virtually whenever possible.
  • Any employee who has contact with hazardous materials will be required to complete course UHS470 - Hazard Communication annually and become familiar with any site specific hazardous chemicals that are used in the course of work.
  • Employees are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily, take temperatures twice daily at home—at the same time in the morning and evening or before and after work and maintain a log—and to stay home if ill or exhibiting symptoms. 
  • Employees exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival or during a shift will be sent home immediately and we will follow the instructions in the University’s Toolkit for Supervisors. For each event, a predetermined waiting area is designated in the case that an employee cannot leave immediately.
  • Employees are required to wear a mask at all times in the building, unless it is not recommended for health or physical ability reasons, per the University of Minnesota’s policy on face coverings
  • Reusable masks should be washed per CDC guidance. If any employee does not have a reusable mask, a disposable mask will be provided at no cost.
  • Employees are reminded to wash hands often, get tested, and stay home when ill or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and to maintain physical distance. 
  • Stop the Spread signage is placed throughout the facility.
  • Employees with uniforms should wash uniforms between shifts.
  • Non-event staff will continue to work from home. 
  • Event staff will work on site for events and from home during non-event work hours. 
  • Staff approved to return to work under the University of Minnesota’s Sunrise Plan will continue to follow the guidelines in Northrop’s policies that supplement the Sunrise Plan.

  • All ushers check in with management upon arrival. They go through the Stay Safe MN Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist before being assigned to their work stations.
  • Face shields are made available for ushers to use during shifts.
  • Ushers scanning tickets are provided with Plexiglas barriers.
  • Scanners and radios are cleaned with disinfecting wipes prior to and after each use, and earbuds are washed prior to each use. The front of house management team is responsible for cleaning, distributing, and then collecting these items during each shift.
  • Ushers will monitor for adherence to public health guidelines. If a patron refuses to comply with the recommendations and requirements, Northrop staff will employ the Educate, Inform, Escalate model:
    • Educate: Politely explain what the problem is, assume that the patron simply did not understand the requirement.
    • Inform: Tell the patron to please respect the requirement, including why it is important.
    • Escalate: Call the manager on duty who may ask the patron and their group to leave if they pose a threat to staff or visitors.
  • Northrop will schedule one additional UMPD officer to be a resource for staff as needed. 

  • All Box Office personnel will check in at their assigned location upon arrival and go through the Stay Safe MN Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist.
  • Glass barriers have been installed at all Box Office windows.
  • Only one window will be open at each Box Office East and West location.
  • One student will be scheduled to answer phones and be stationed at least six feet from other staff members.
  • Non-Box Office staff members are not allowed in the Box O
  • Other staff members can contact the Box Office staff as needed by radio, phone, G-Chat or email.
  • Disposable gloves are made available to Box Office staff. If used, gloves will be changed between each task.
  • Two baskets for pens are available at the Box Office windows. One will contain clean sanitized pens, and the other will be for pens that have been used. Used pens will be cleaned and sanitized before reuse.

  • All literature racks, brochures, and printed materials have been
  • The marketing table has been relocated within the lobby to a location that allows for one employee to staff the table and socially distance from patrons.
  • The marketing table will only contain one display and no hand-outs. There will be an “Enter to Win” QR code available.

  • IATSE and other backstage personnel will enter through the backstage door by the loading dock. They will not be allowed to enter backstage any other way. This information will be relayed to the Local 13 by Northrop’s Technical Director.
  • All backstage personnel will check in at a table upon entry through the backstage door and go through the Stay Safe MN Visitor and Employee Health Screening Checklist.
  • Masks will be distributed upon check-in.
  • Upon completion of the health screening, IATSE employees will be issued a Northrop satin to indicate that they have been cleared to work.
  • Production is working with touring companies and Local 13 to ensure consistent staffing from load-in to load-out.
  • IATSE and contractors are not allowed to use the break room and are asked to bring meals in coolers as necessary.
  • Hygiene stations are set up outside each stage entrance door that include hand sanitizer and disinfectant
  • Cleaning stations are set up on stage left and stage right with supplies used to clean commonly/communally used tools.
  • House production staff and visiting production staff will collaborate on social distancing the load-in and strike work calls based on the total number of local and visiting production staff/stagehands needed for each call, increasing the amount of time for work calls as necessary.
  • Backstage access is limited to essential personnel only during all work and performance calls. Essential personnel is defined as Northrop production staff, visiting company, and artistic staff.

Plan Administrator:

Kari Schloner, Director of Northrop


Northrop’s Re-Opening Committee:

Ken Hahn, Brad Kern, Amy Nelson, Bridget Reddan, David Russell, Megan Sangster, Julie Strothman, Trisha Taylor