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Hollywood’s major studios and guilds have come to a tentative, short-term agreement on new on-set COVID-19 protocols, finally taking vaccines into account.
In a joint statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the industry’s top guilds — including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the DGA and the Teamsters — say that they’ve agreed to ease current protocols for fully vaccinated cast and crew.
In addition, producers will have the option to mandate vaccines for casts and crew in Zone A. Under the current safety protocols, sets are divided up into different “zones” that correspond to proximity to actors and different levels of protection needed. Zone A is typically the area on set where cast and crew have to work in close proximity, often without personal protective equipment.
“The modifications center on workplace practices for fully vaccinated cast and crew, including changes to outdoor masking requirements and updated mealtime protocols,” said the joint statement. “Producers will also have the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis.”
The new agreement also includes adjustments to testing frequency for certain regions in the United States and Canada, where, per the statement, “COVID-19 incidence is, and remains, very low.” The updated agreement will remain in effect through Sept. 30, 2021. Until then, the studios and guilds will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 developments and will consider further modifications at that time.
All the parties had been negotiating for months an update to the existing COVID-19 protocols, which were first laid out last September of last year. That contract was scheduled to expire April 30 but was extended to give them more time to negotiate the details of it and allow the vaccines to roll out more.
Whether vaccines would become mandatory in Hollywood has been a question for some time. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told KCRW’s The Business podcast back in March that he wasn’t yet sure how his company would approach the issue. “We’re not going to take a position on whether we mandate or not,” he said. “I think people are pretty enthusiastic about getting back to normal life, and so we’ll play it by ear and see how the adoption of the vaccines goes.”
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