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Hollywood Productions Can Require COVID Vaccination in New Deal Between Studios and Guilds

Tentative new agreement will remain in effect through September

Hollywood's unions and studio representatives have reached a tentative COVID-19 safety agreement that, among other things, will allow productions to mandate vaccines for cast and crew.

The new agreement will remain in effect until Oct. 1, at which time the guilds and studios will reassess and, if needed, consider additional changes to COVID-19 safety requirements in the entertainment industry. The agreement comes as the Delta variant of the disease is fueling a rise in cases -- though thanks to the vaccines, that rise is still dramatically lower than it was at the pandemic's peak.

Earlier this month, the SAG-AFTRA national board approved a series of guidelines that any production mandating vaccines must abide by. Among them is a rule requiring that cast and crew must be notified of the mandate with enough time to get fully vaccinated and for the vaccine to develop immunity to COVID-19.

The tentative agreement comes after three extra weeks of talks between the studios and guilds, as the previous safety agreement was extended past its June 30 expiration date. With daily new cases in Los Angeles extremely low last month, the two sides were expected to come to an agreement to loosen protocols and lighten the financial burden for producers.

But a new surge among unvaccinated individuals both in Los Angeles and nationwide has led Hollywood to dial back those plans. Provisions will be added to the new agreement allowing for more infrequent testing in areas where infection rates are "very low," though the guilds' announcement does not define exactly how low those rates have to be.

Read the full statement below:

With the ongoing goal of keeping casts, crews and all set workers safe, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), together with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), today announced they have a tentative agreement on adjustments to the Covid-19 Safety Agreement reflecting vaccines and other scientific advances.

The modifications center on workplace practices for fully vaccinated cast and crew, including changes to outdoor masking requirements and updated mealtime protocols. Producers will also have the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis. Additional changes, such as adjustments to testing frequency, are included for certain areas in the United States and Canada where Covid-19 incidence is, and remains, very low.

The Agreement will remain in effect through September 30, 2021. The parties will continue closely monitoring Covid-19 developments and will consider further modifications at that time. 

First enacted in September 2020 after a months-long production shutdown, the Covid-19 Safety Agreement is the outcome of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between the unions and collaboration with Employers to develop science-based protocols that minimize the risk of Covid-19 virus transmission in the industry’s unique work environments. Since that time, the protocols have driven a successful rebound of film and television production while prioritizing safety for casts, crews and all on-set workers.