Hollywood Unions Finalize Formal COVID-19 Safety Regulations With Studios

Deal completes nearly six months of industry-wide discussions on how to get Hollywood productions running again

Last Updated: September 21, 2020 @ 3:08 PM

Hollywood’s top unions announced in a joint statement on Monday that they have reached a deal with the industry’s top studios to formalize COVID-19 safety regulations on film and television sets.

The deal comes after nearly six months of collaboration between 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), along with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on behalf of the studios. Together, the group ironed out a comprehensive list of safety protocols for all areas of production to protect cast and crew from COVID-19, based in large part on the “Safe Way Forward” report released by the unions in June.

“Though this process was not easy, unprecedented inter-union collaboration and unwavering solidarity enabled our unions to achieve strong COVID-19 protections that will translate into tangibly safer workplaces,” said IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb in a statement.

The regulations include regular PCR testing of all production employees, including prior to their first day on set. The frequency of testing for each member will be determined by a zone system that will also map out who gets access to different areas of the production space.

“Given that performers are uniquely vulnerable because they are not able to utilize PPE and physical distancing when cameras are rolling, the agreement requires more frequent testing — of at least three times a week — for performers as well as those with whom they come into close contact, referred to as ‘Zone A,'” the unions explain. “All other individuals in the production environment will utilize physical distancing and PPE at all times. Those who work on set, but not when performers are present without PPE (“Zone B”), must be tested at a minimum of once a week.”

Each production must also employ a compliance officer whose job it will be to ensure that all regulations are strictly followed. All employees will also be granted 10 days of paid sick leave should they test positive for COVID-19.

The formal rules come as productions in Los Angeles, New York, and other filming hot spots worldwide have cautiously resumed with new safety precautions to protect outbreaks on set. In Los Angeles, daytime shows like “The Bold & The Beautiful” as well as game shows like “Jeopardy!” and ‘Wheel of Fortune” are among those that have resumed filming, while FilmLA once again began taking permits for on-location shooting earlier this summer.

But some productions have hit snags during this process, including Warner Bros.’ ‘The Batman,” which was forced to halt production after its lead star, Robert Pattinson, tested positive on set for COVID-19. Filming on the DC project resumed this past week.