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Hollywood COVID protocols spread as studios and unions negotiate

The entertainment industry’s COVID protocols will remain in place for now, as unions announced an extension on Friday night.

The protocols, which have been in place for two years, are set to expire on Friday night. Industry unions, including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Directors Guild of America, have been negotiating an update to the rules with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

“The current Agreement, which was previously scheduled to expire today, September 30, will remain in place until a new Agreement is reached,” the unions said in a joint statement.

The last major change to the rules came in May, when the two sides agreed to relax testing requirements and allow workers to work without masks. Since then, the number of COVID cases has seen a modest increase and then a modest decrease in Los Angeles County.

In recent weeks, Los Angeles County health officials have eased mask requirements in other settings, such as jails and facilities for the homeless. Earlier in the summer, the county considered implementing an indoor mask mandate, but backed off when the number of infections leveled off.

In Hollywood, crews continue to abide by rules that divide production spaces into four different zones, with different rules for each. Employers can also impose vaccination mandates on Zone A, which includes everyone who is physically present on set or those who come into contact with actors.

The rules also cover things like physical distancing and testing frequency. COVID protocols have increased production costs considerably, with one study finding a 5% to 6.5% increase for big-budget projects. Additional expenses include COVID security officers, testing materials, and quarantine grants.


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