Hollywood’s New COVID-19 Protocols End Testing Requirements for Off-Set Workers

Renewed studios and guilds guidelines lift certain testing regulations in areas with low COVID hospitalization rates

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Hollywood’s studios and labor unions have renewed the COVID-19 safety protocols with some testing requirements for workers not in the immediate film production area removed.

Part I of the COVID-19 Safety Agreement remains unchanged, continuing to require the strictest protocols be implemented on productions occurring in any metropolitan area or county with 14 or more COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people. Most major production hubs in the United States, including Los Angeles, currently have hospitalization rates below this threshold.

Most productions are currently working under Part II of the agreement, which allows for looser testing requirements on sets in areas with lower hospitalization rates. Under the new changes, pre-employment testing is no longer required for workers in zones B and C, areas of productions that are distanced from Zone A, where shooting directly takes place and actors perform in front of the camera without a mask.

Additionally, weekly testing is no longer required for employees in Zone B, though producers are required to make tests available for employees who have come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 if so requested. The agreement also grants a bank of five additional sick days and no longer requires the COVID compliance supervisor to be physically present on set as long as a member of the compliance team is accessible at all times during shooting hours.

The COVID-19 safety protocols were introduced in September 2020 after months of discussions between SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, Teamsters Local 399, IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The unions and AMPTP regularly meet to make modifications to the protocols depending on COVID-19 infection rates and to extend the period of enforcement.

The current protocol extension will last until April 1.