- The California Department of Public Health allows for TV and film production to resume in California by June 12 with protocols to follow by cast and crew.
The novel coronavirus outbreak disrupted the entertainment industry and ordered Hollywood to shelter-in-place. In consequence, films and TV productions had to shut down until further guidance by California Governor Gavin Newsom and relevant public health officials. Productions were also forced to reschedule theatrical release dates for later in the year, opt for digital premium streaming release, or choose to postpone until next year.
Among those affected include the season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Disney+ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier TV series, HBO Max’s Gossip Girl sequel series, Disney’s Mulan and Jungle Cruise blockbuster films, and DC’s Wonder Woman 1984.
The California Department of Public Health said Friday in a statement via the Governor’s Office that “Music, TV and film production may resume in California, recommended no sooner than June 12, 2020, and subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing.”
The guidelines were delayed due to nationwide protests demanding justice for George Floyd’s death caused by police brutality and racial inequality. Health experts, the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force, that includes the AMPTP, SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild, IATSE and the Teamsters, with the participation of major studios and companies such Amazon Studios, HBO and Netflix submitted 22-page document to Newsom and other state governments across the country on recommended protocols to resume production while minimizing coronavirus risk of infection or exposure.
“To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines published by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Industrial Relations, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the statement continued.
The general recommendations include testing as a condition of employment for all cast and crew, daily symptom monitoring and hand hygiene enforcement, social distancing, and the mandatory use of personal protective equipment. Additionally, meal times should be staggered, and large gatherings or loitering should be avoided. Meetings and writers’ rooms should remain virtual, and scripts are required to be modified to avoid close contact between performers or opt for digital effects.
Thomas Schlamme, Directors Guild of America (DGA) president, and Russell Hollander, national executive director, sent a letter to the guild’s members charting the initiatives stating that “These are incredibly complex issues to solve, the science is still rapidly developing, and it’s all being done amid a world changing at breakneck speeds.”
“Through it all, what drives us is getting this right for our members, other industry workers and the general public, so a quick, safe and sustainable return to work can be realized,” they wrote.