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What COVID-19 rules are necessary in Hollywood right now? That’s still up for debate

Rachel Brosnahan shields herself with an umbrella while playing with a dog.
Rachel Brosnahan shields herself with an umbrella while playing with a dog in between takes on the set of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It is an example of the precautions productions have taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.
(Jose Perez / Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Hollywood workers will have to wait longer to find out what COVID-19 safety conditions will be necessary on film sets this summer.

An agreement over sick pay, testing, masking and other safety measures lapsed June 30 without a new deal between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and leading entertainment industry unions, the groups said in a joint statement Thursday.

However, negotiations will continue regarding adjustments to their safety agreement and the current arrangement will remain in place until a new deal is struck, the unions and AMPTP said.

Hollywood’s unions and major producers — which include such studios as Walt Disney and Universal Pictures as well as Apple TV and other streaming platforms — have been considering what changes might need to be made to existing safety protocols to adapt to vaccinated workers and the falling hospitalization rate.

As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, how will safety rules and protocols change for crews working on film and TV sets?

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Strict testing, social distancing and masking rules have kept film sets across the country largely safe from coronavirus outbreaks. But the requirements have increased production costs and slowed down filming and affected related businesses that service the industry. Nearly 300,000 jobs were lost in creative industries in California during the pandemic, according to one estimate.

The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and SAG-AFTRA negotiated an earlier return-to-work deal last fall and extended it in April.

That agreement, which expired Wednesday, laid out detailed safety protocols as well as sick pay and compensation for time taken for testing or placing people in quarantine.

Production remains hampered by restrictions necessary for keeping the COVID-19 pandemic at bay, but filmmakers and studios are optimistic that Hollywood is finally reopening.

Film and TV production, classified as an essential business in California and many other states, has increased since last summer. Since April, even with restrictions, demand for shows and pent-up activity has pushed the volume of production in L.A. back to pre-pandemic levels.


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