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Chill, Seth Rogen. L.A. health officials say Emmys didn’t violate COVID-19 rules

Jason Sudeikis, in a blue velvet suit, with the "Ted Lasso" team at the Emmy Awards.
Jason Sudeikis and the “Ted Lasso” team celebrate at the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday’s unmasked, socially un-distanced, indoor Emmys ceremony prompted many — including presenter Seth Rogen — to wonder if awards shows are somehow exempt from COVID-19 mandates.

Well, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has spoken, and the answer is: Actually, yeah, kinda.

In response to an outcry over this year’s show — which saw hundreds of nominees, presenters and guests gather unmasked and in close proximity inside a decorated tent at L.A. Live — health officials released a statement Monday absolving participants of their alleged pandemic crimes.

Seth Rogen joked that he ‘would not have come’ to the Emmys during a bit mocking the show’s apparent flouting of COVID-19 safety rules.

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“LA County’s Health Officer order requires everyone to wear a mask indoors, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, exceptions are made for film, television, and music productions, as additional safety modifications are made for these controlled interactions,” the health department said in a statement to The Times.

“The Emmy Award Show is a television production, and persons appearing on the show are considered performers. All persons appearing on or in the audience of the Emmy Award Show were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Also, Public Health was informed that each of these persons had a verified negative PCR test 48 hours prior to the show.”

After more than a year of virtual and outdoor awards shows, featuring top talent in fashionable face coverings, Sunday’s Emmys telecast resembled a return to pre-pandemic times — though the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to sweep across California and abroad.

Viewership for the CBS telecast hosted by Cedric the Entertainer was up 16% over 2020.

Even Rogen, who presented the first award of the night, couldn’t help but comment on the apparent lack of COVID-19 regulations during the CBS broadcast, which drew 7.4 million viewers.

“Let me start by saying there is way too many of us in this little room,” he quipped before presenting the award for supporting actress in a comedy series to “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham (and flubbing her name in the process).

“What are we doing? They said this was outdoors. It is not. They lied to us. ... We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof? It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than to make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy tonight. That has been decided.”

Your one-stop shop for complete Emmy coverage from the Los Angeles Times, from the standout fashions and speeches to the biggest winners of the evening.

Because attendees were immunized and the production crew also was required to be fully vaccinated (or frequently tested leading up to the event), the local health department has dismissed Rogen’s widely shared concerns.

“The Emmys reached out to Public Health in advance to share their safety protocols, which exceeded the baseline requirements for television and film productions,” the statement continued.

“Careful planning before large events is essential to assure that all health and safety requirements are adequately addressed. ... Public Health will continue review the protocols of future large television production events and prescribe additional safety modifications to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

Regardless of vaccination status, those not actively participating in a music, TV or film production are still required to wear face coverings indoors in L.A.


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