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SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry’s health and safety protocols for production during COVID-19 are coming to an end.
The performers’ union and the Joint Policy Committee, which bargains on behalf of advertisers and advertising agencies, have agreed to terminate their COVID-19 safety and testing agreement on May 11, the parties announced on Thursday. That is the same day that the U.S. government is set to declare an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency and one day before Hollywood’s film and television pandemic safety agreement will expire.
Still, commercial productions that began before the May 11 expiration date and required vaccines in “Zone A” (a group of workers including on-camera performers and the crew members that work most closely to them) of their shoots may continue to enforce that mandate until the end of their projects.
Performers that are scheduled to act in intimate scenes or those that require “extreme exertion,” such as dancing, running or other athletic performance in a small space, may still request antigen COVID tests for themselves and peers with whom they are in close contact, the agreement states. “The identity of the performer or background actor making the request will not be shared with the other performers,” according to SAG-AFTRA and the JPC.
The agreement also makes allowances for producers wishing to retain any previous COVID-19 safety protocols on productions after May 11. Producers wishing to do so must “must seek [a] separate agreement with SAG-AFTRA and notify the JPC prior to implementation.”
The advertising industry has been operating under COVID protocols since late 2020 and came to a specific agreement with SAG-AFTRA in April 2021, which has since been updated several times. Both parties allowed vaccine mandates in “Zone A” of sets as of September 2021.
Hollywood’s studios and streamers and top unions, including SAG-AFTRA, reached a deal to end COVID protocols for film and television projects in March.
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