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Los Angeles County can restart filming despite coronavirus threat

Health officials have given Los Angeles County, California’s filming capital, the green light to start rolling cameras again as soon as Friday.

The county, whose recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has lagged behind other parts of the state, said in a statement Wednesday that it would be allowing film and television production to resume.

The decision was part of a broader initiative to this week reopen gyms, museums,hotels as well as sports events without live audiences.

The move follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement that filming in the state could resume this week, subject to a number of restrictions.

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It was uncertain, however, whether L.A County would be able to meet the filming requirements, given that coronavirus transmission rates are climbing again.

County health officials said they would closely monitor whether any activity was exacerbating the health crisis.

“If at any time, the county’s rate of infection and other key metrics demonstrate a rapid acceleration of new cases that threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system, the Department of Public Health and the Board of Supervisors may need to limit future reopenings or close reopened sectors,” the county said in a statement.

The order allowing the restart of music, film and television production will be posted Thursday along with requirements businesses must meet.

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Hollywood unions and producers on Monday submitted safety guidelines for resuming filming after the coronavirus pandemic to the governors of California and New York.

Last week, Newsom said filming could restart subject to approvals by health officials and if productions, cast, crew and other industry workers abide by safety protocols agreed to by labor and management.

Filming won’t resume immediately in L.A.

FilmL.A. will “reactivate to support the county’s decision,” after it receives the order, said Phil Sokoloski, a spokesman for the group which handles film permits for the city and the county.

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“When the county reopens it would just be for unincorporated L.A. County areas, but we are following up with local cities about their plans also,” Sokoloski said. “At this point, we don’t expect to start receiving and processing applications until at least Monday.”

Entertainment studios and labor unions last week agreed to a detailed set of production protocols that will impose new measures to the way movie and TV sets operate, including the elimination of buffet-style meals and requirements to sanitize handheld props after each use. There is to be mandatory coronavirus testing of cast and crew, including temperature screening, and supplying personal protective equipment.

Although hundreds of thousands of workers in entertainment have lost employment as a result of the pandemic, both studios and unions have been eager to return to work safely. Many have been relying on support from unions and other fundraising efforts to make ends meet.

Other countries such as Iceland and New Zealand have already restarted filming as they seek to court productions with their new safety rules and lucrative tax incentives.

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