California May Drop Its Mask Mandates, But Hollywood Won’t

After navigating the biggest COVID surge ever with Omicron, studios and unions are discussing how to move forward

After grappling with the COVID-19 Omicron surge that led to dozens of film and TV shoots being postponed, Hollywood’s studios and guilds are back in meetings this week to review the industry’s safety protocols. And while California may be lifting its mask mandate, movie sets won’t.

The Return to Work Agreement, which dictates the pandemic safety protocols productions must adhere to, is set to be renewed as its expiration date approaches Sunday. While the new expiration date hasn’t been set yet and the outlook on the pandemic remains uncertain, studio and labor sources tell TheWrap that they expect most if not all of the protocols to remain in place through the duration of 2022.

“We are operating under the assumption that the Return to Work Agreement will remain as it is for the time being,” one production executive told TheWrap.

Despite the fact that over 61,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 over the past month — with 9,500 deaths between Feb. 7-9 — governors in multiple states have announced plans to lift mask mandates, including in California on Feb. 15 with the exception of Los Angeles County, which is waiting for infection rates to drop further before gradually loosening mandatory mask wearing at large gatherings and indoor businesses.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster