Staggered call times. No more buffet-style food. How sets might change after coronavirus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sent safety guidelines to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

No more buffet-style food service. Live audiences with face masks. A COVID-19 compliance officer on every set.

Those are among the safety protocols recommended by Hollywood union officials and studio executives in a report to the governors of California and New York.

“This document is an initial set of principles and guidelines that we all agree form a relevant and realistic first step to protecting cast and crew in the reopening of the entertainment and media industry in its two largest markets,” actors union SAG-AFTRA said in a statement.


The coronavirus has given Hollywood’s unions renewed clout and a raft of challenges to deal with as the industry scrambles to get back to work.

May 30, 2020

The recommendations, contained in a white paper, were from a labor-management safety task force, with members from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, Directors Guild of America, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, among others.

The unions last week balked at immediate plans to resume production.

After California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 20 that the state planned to soon issue guidelines allowing many counties to resume production, some union leaders said the move was premature.

With Hollywood on hold, so are the livelihoods of thousands of workers who depend on the film and TV business that has halted during the coronavirus pandemic.

March 17, 2020

Hollywood productions and live events have been suspended because of the pandemic, hurting thousands of workers. Many companies have furloughed workers, while others have issued salary cuts.

The coronavirus has cast a spotlight on a lack of hygiene on sets, with some people recalling situations where there were not enough bathrooms or places to wash their hands.

Several celebrities have also gone public about having the coronavirus, including Tom Hanks and Daniel Dae Kim, who tested positive for the coronavirus after filming a guest role in New York for the show “New Amsterdam.”

The coronavirus crisis has provided an unwelcome lesson in the hidden perils of working in the kind of high-touch environments required of movie and TV production.

April 11, 2020

Among the chief recommendations in the task force report is mandatory testing of cast and crew, including temperature screening and supplying personal protective equipment. Live shows would be allowed case by case and only if audiences wear face coverings, are positioned six feet away from one another and get screened for symptoms.


Hollywood union officials and studio executives released a report with recommended safety protocols to the governors of California and New York.

June 1, 2020

Other recommendations include organizing departments into smaller groups, potentially staggering call times, and using remote-monitoring technology to reduce the number of people on set.

“The road back is finally taking shape, and we remain optimistic,” wrote Thomas Schlamme, DGA president, and Russell Hollander, DGA national executive director, in a note to members. “We appreciate the need to get back to work and know that the timing is exceedingly important; getting it right is mandatory.”

Some companies, including Netflix, are continuing productions in places like Iceland.

On Monday, the United Kingdom’s government said it “welcomed” recommendations from the British Film Commission on how to resume production safely.

“We’ve worked hard to support the industry through these difficult times, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to agree [on] this step forward towards getting the cameras rolling safety again,” said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in a statement.

Staff writer Anousha Sakoui contributed to this report.