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The Joint Policy Committee, LLC announced on Friday that the change was made in an addendum to the groups’ existing COVID-19 Safety Protocols. The addendum notes that a “mandatory vaccination policy for commercial productions” may be implemented if the producer announces the policy in early stages of the production and has “procedures in place” to handle workers requesting a medical or religious exemption, among other requirements.
Producers can confirm workers’ vaccination status via a digital vaccination card that verifies vaccination with government records or by way of a copy, digital or otherwise, of a physical vaccination card, according to the addendum. The union must also be notified that the producer is requiring COVID-19 vaccines “as soon as practicable,” the agreement says.
In a statement, SAG-AFTRA said, “We are pleased that we were able to reach agreement on a policy that permits employers to require mandatory vaccinations for cast and crew on commercial productions. This policy is in addition to our current protocols on testing and set safety all of which continue to help ensure the safety of our members on sets. Similar to other policies permitting producers to require mandatory vaccinations, performers must be notified at the earliest point in the process as well as notified about the procedure to trigger the interactive process if there is a request for a medical or religious accommodation.”
The union notes that, before this agreement, it was approving vaccine mandates on commercial productions on a case-by-case basis. It adds that performers that are not currently vaccinated “should consider” getting their first dose by Oct. 4. If they complete the vaccine procedure within six weeks, including the two-week waiting period after their final dose, “under the terms of the new agreement, they will be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ and eligible to work on commercials that have adopted mandatory vaccination policies while they are going through the vaccination process,” the union adds.
This agreement comes about two months after the industry’s top guilds and studios announced they were allowing producers to mandate vaccines for cast and crew in Zone A of productions in a new short-term agreement. Netflix is currently requiring that all workers in Zone A of its U.S. productions be vaccinated, and CNN is mandating that all those who work in the field with other employees as well as the office be vaccinated.
In August, Sean Penn — who in late July resisted returning to work on Starz’s Gaslit until all cast and crew had been vaccinated — blasted “cowardly union leadership” for a lack of widespread production vaccine mandates. “Because there’s a fringe within each of these constituencies, within the unions, that I believe leadership is afraid of, and it’s the same fringe, a parallel fringe, to the fringe that we see throughout the country,” he said at the time.
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