SAG-AFTRA Halts In-Person Meetings Over Coronavirus Worries

The Guild says essential meetings will be conducted remotely when “physical attendance is not required”

Last Updated: March 13, 2020 @ 12:13 PM

SAG-AFTRA on Monday announced it is “canceling, postponing or reconfiguring certain national and local in-person meetings,” along with other measures it is putting into place to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

The measures, which were announced in a letter from union president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White, were designed as “social-distancing tactics to help reduce the possibility of potential exposure or transmission through travel and attendance at face-to-face meetings.”

As part of these new protocols, SAG-AFTRA will not schedule any national meetings in the immediate future and are calling all guild leadership, staff and local chapters to cancel in-person meetings “as well as local educational workshops, panels, mixers and conservatory and film society events.” SAG-AFTRA also called on leadership to abstain from nonessential travel and hold all essential guild meetings remotely.

“If you or a member of your household are unwell, do not come to a SAG-AFTRA meeting or office,” the letter urged. “If you have any symptoms, but especially if you have a fever or breathing problems, stay at home and seek appropriate medical advice if warranted. Please note that if you come to SAG-AFTRA and you appear unwell, you will be asked to leave.”

At least 600 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States, and over 100,000 cases worldwide, CNN reported. The virus has prompted several major companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, to close down offices and encourage employees to work remotely. Major business and cultural events such as SXSW have also been canceled over public health concerns.

The guild posted the new precautions to its official site Monday afternoon. See the full announcement below:

Dear Member,

Our top priority is the safety of SAG-AFTRA members, staff and our various partners throughout the industry and community.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak expands here in the United States and across the globe, we are taking action to further increase safety, while supporting essential member services and minimizing disruption to regular union business.

This includes monitoring public health advisories and other sources regarding this rapidly-changing outbreak, and taking effective steps that are informed by and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local government safety recommendations.

To best address our practices during this current public health concern, we have been working with employers and industry allies, and have met and consulted with elected national officers, local presidents from across the country, and our internal coronavirus working group.

We are committed to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The following expanded safety protocols employ various social-distancing tactics to help reduce the possibility of potential exposure or transmission through travel and attendance at face-to-face meetings.

1. Effective immediately, SAG-AFTRA is canceling, postponing or reconfiguring certain national and local in-person meetings. Check sagaftra.org periodically for updates.
2. The union will not be scheduling new, large, national group meetings in the immediate future.
3. The local presidents unanimously agreed to cancel, postpone or reschedule nonessential face-to-face meetings in all locals across the country until further notice. This includes membership, board and committee meetings, as well as local educational workshops, panels, mixers, conservatory and film society events.
4. Essential SAG-AFTRA meetings shall be conducted remotely where physical attendance is not required.
5. Nonessential travel by SAG-AFTRA leadership and staff is strongly discouraged. This includes all travel not related to mandatory in-person events or meetings.
6. Members and staff are expected to adhere to the following safety protocols and social-distancing practices:

a. If you or a member of your household are unwell, do not come to a SAG-AFTRA meeting or office. If you have any symptoms, but especially if you have a fever or breathing problems, stay at home and seek appropriate medical advice if warranted. Please note that if you come to SAG-AFTRA and you appear unwell, you will be asked to leave.
b. If you or a member of your household has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea or any other country or location on the CDC’s list of “Level 3/Avoid Nonessential Travel” countries in the past 14 days, please plan on participating in meetings and events virtually. You can check the CDC’s list of travel alerts here.
c. SAG-AFTRA national and local facilities teams are disinfecting high-touch surfaces and door handles several times throughout the day and have provided hand sanitizer in all offices. Procedures to limit the spread of the disease have been provided in all offices.
d. Please review the recommendations on enhanced hygiene and social-distancing practices provided by the CDC and other authoritative sources here.

This is a dynamic and fast-changing situation. We are closely monitoring public health advisories and will continue to work with member leaders, staff, employers and community partners to provide updates as conditions evolve.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact SAG-AFTRA at (855) SAG-AFTRA. This phone number along with the safety hotline is on the back of your membership card and on your member app.

For additional information or updates on developments and recommended safety precautions, visit the websites for the CDC and World Health Organization.

In unity,

Gabrielle Carteris
President

David P. White
National Executive Director

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