SAG-AFTRA and Producers Guild Recommend "Temporary Hold on In-Person Production" in Southern California

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The Joint Policy Committee, a multiemployer bargaining group that represents commercial advertisers and advertising agencies, also is recommending a pause in production amid a COVID-19 surge.

SAG-AFTRA, the Joint Policy Committee and the Producers Guild of America on Sunday recommended a "temporary hold on in-person production" amid the pandemic.

"In light of the capacity crisis facing Southern California hospitals due to the COVID pandemic and an anticipated post-holiday surge of COVID cases, SAG-AFTRA and organizations representing commercial advertisers and advertising agencies and independent film and television producers have reached agreement on recommending a temporary hold on in-person production in Southern California," they said in a joint release. "The major studios and streamers are already on production hiatus in Southern California until mid-January."

The Joint Policy Committee is a multi-employer bargaining group that represents commercial advertisers and advertising agencies. The JPC also has agreed to recommend that in-person commercial production in Southern California be "paused until more hospital beds become available."

Said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris: "Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before.  Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now."

"Even putting aside the risk of acquiring COVID on set — a risk that we have done a great deal to mitigate through our safety protocols — on set production always poses some risk of injury, whether because of a stunt gone wrong, an equipment failure or a garden-variety fall.  Right now, with few if any hospital beds available, it is hard to understand how a worker injured on set is supposed to seek treatment," said David White, SAG-AFTRA's national executive director. "I would like to thank the JPC and the PGA for their efforts to reinforce safety measures for all, and we acknowledge and appreciate the major studios and other producers who have proactively stepped up and postponed their production during this emergency."

SAG-AFTRA also encouraged its members in Southern California to "stay home and refrain from accepting on-set employment for the next several weeks."

It added: "In the event that a Southern California-area SAG-AFTRA member is required to work during the next few weeks and has concerns about their safety on set, they are encouraged to reach out to the union."

Stacy Marcus, chief negotiator for the JPC, added: "Commercial producers are strongly encouraged to reschedule their Southern California-area productions to a later date when the hospital capacity crisis has eased.  It is simply too great a risk to performers, crew, and industry personnel to continue production knowing that hospitals are in crisis mode and the number of cases continues to rise."

Said PGA presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher: "Independent producers can help hold the line in this crisis by taking the difficult but responsible step of postponing production for now. We can and will do what it takes to protect our cast and crew, and our community."

SAG-AFTRA, the JPC and the PGA said they will remain in contact with members and the industry as the situation develops.

"It is too hard to say right now when the situation may improve, but we are monitoring closely and will make sure that our members have the information they need to make the best decisions they can to protect themselves and our community," White said.

The recommendation comes on the heels of the regional stay-at-home order being extended last week in California, with no specific end date. And the week before, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health sent a notice to local film industry members that included a reminder to be cautious and "strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases."

Los Angeles County surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus Wednesday as California also hit a record high number of fatalities. California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced the first detected case of the new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus in a San Diego man.LA County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted that, as of last Wednesday, more than 7,400 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in the county, with 20 percent  of them in intensive care units.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.