In a major step towards restarting the state’s entertainment business that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom and the Department of Public Health have released guidelines for how production shooting can resume.
A Friday press release from the Office of Public Affairs for the California Department of Public Health, “California Public Health Officials Provide COVID-19 Update,” that included the latest state coronavirus statistics and guidelines for business re-openings, including schools, day camps, casinos and professional sports, also included the following information regarding re-starting entertainment industry productions beginning June 12, 2020:
Guidance for Music, Film and Television Production
Music, TV and film production may resume in California, recommended no sooner than June 12, 2020 and subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines (PDF) published by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Industrial Relations, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
In other words, productions that have been shut down since Mid-March can begin again June 12 subject to county public health official approval of the location where the work will take place. It’s probably safe to say that even with the go-ahead to resume, productions will look quite different for the foreseeable future. According an LA Times report last Monday, entertainment studios and Hollywood labor union officials issued a safety recommendations report to Newsom and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, drafted by a labor-management safety task force comprised of members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, Directors Guild of America, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, as well as others. The 22-page white paper, which Deadline published online, included recommendations such as face masks for live audiences, elimination of food service buffets, and mandatory testing for cast and crew; the proposed health and safety guidelines represent a radical change from what have been decades-long routine practices in the film and TV business. The pandemic shutdown brought into sharp focus many of the seemingly basic issues of film and TV set hygiene, such as places to wash hands, that have been problematic for quite some time.
The LA Times went on to report that the proposed health and safety recommendations, which also include reducing the number of people on set through the use of remote monitoring technology and using plexiglass barriers, are expected to increase production costs by as much as 20%.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.