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Los Angeles Film Permits Drop Nearly 25% in December as COVID-19 Cases Surge

As Hollywood becomes America’s pandemic epicenter, film and TV production has dramatically dialed down

Over the past month, Los Angeles has become America’s epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis; and even though film and TV productions in Hollywood have not been forced to shut down, the infection surge has taken its toll.

According to FilmLA, film permit requests in December fell 24.9% from November with 613 permit requests received. That’s an average of 29 permits per day, the lowest FilmLA has seen since August. While many businesses in L.A. County have been forced to close due to the pandemic, filming has been allowed to move forward as productions are subject to extensive government regulations and mandated COVID-19 safety requirements created last summer by Hollywood’s labor unions.

But despite this, the Los Angeles County Department Public of Health urged studios to put their productions on hiatus as infections have rapidly escalated. The daily average of new cases reported in the county has spiked to just under 15,000 per day over the past month, with daily deaths rising above 200 per day. Many major studios, along with SAG-AFTRA and the Producers Guild, have heeded the request, announcing a pause on local filming through at least mid-January and possibly longer.

“The industry has been extraordinarily responsible throughout the time of the pandemic, as  demonstrated by their recent actions during the rise in cases of COVID-19 and embrace of  strict safety protocols,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement.  

Of those productions that did shoot in December, 27% were TV productions and 28% were commercials. Among the TV shows currently shooting in Los Angeles are HBO’s “Insecure” and “Tacoma FD,” CBS’ “Ghosts” and “The 3 of Us” and Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q.” 26 feature films, mostly independent, also started production, including the comedy-horror film “Slayers” starring Abigail Breslin.