New York City enters Phase 4 — the last region in the state to do so — on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed in a Friday afternoon conference call, allowing film and TV production to ramp up and fanless pro sports to move foward after being cleared by global health experts.
Media production activities, meaning motion picture, music, television, and streaming productions on set, on location or at any production or recording site can accelerate work following health and safety guidelines set out by New York State in late June. The biggest change from Phase 3 would be a doubling of allowed capacity on set from 25% to 50%.
Outdoor filming, capped at 25 people in Phase 3, won’t have limits but realistically will be constrained by open streets and outdoor dining, NYC Film Commissioner Anne del Castillo said in a recent interview with Deadline.
But there’s not likely to be rush to the cameras as the industry awaits clarification from the state and city early next week. Del Castillo said she thinks production in the city will relaunch in earnest, and cautiously, in August.
Otherwise it’s a bit of a bummer of a Phase 4 since it still excludes movie theaters and additional indoor actitivies like malls, gyms and enclosed dining. Low-risk outdoor venues like zoos and botanical gardens with strict capacity limits and mandatory COVID-19 precautions in place can open.
New York was once the epicenter of COVID-19 but is now one of only a handful of states where it’s under control. Gov. Cuomo has been spooked by the surge in cases acrosst the country and wants to avoid mistakes make elsewhere. He’s said during his regular daily briefings that the state is looking at air conditing systems as a culprit in spreading the virus in enclosed locations and about the possibility of addressing that with special filters that block infected droplets from recirculating.
Cuomo didn’t provide a timeline for indoor reopenings.
“New York City will enter Phase Four on Monday. That is a hallmark for us. Every region of the state will now be in Phase Four. There are no more phases. Then Phase Four, so we are all in the final phase of reopening. And that’s great. Every region has made it through the four phases without having to close. And the numbers are consistent through all phases of reopening. And this is what we said from day one, reopen smart, and if you reopen smart and you reopen in phases, and you follow the data, it’s actually a better way for the economy to reopen because if you rush the reopening then you risk the probability of a viral increase,” Gov. Cuomo said.
“The Phase Four allows schools to reopen pursuant to the State guidance. It allows low-risk outdoor activities and entertainment at 33 percent capacity. It allows outdoor professional sports without fans and that is happening as you know. It allows media production. In New York City as I announced yesterday we’re not going to have any indoor activity in malls or cultural institutions and we’ll continue to monitor that situation and when the facts change we will let you know,” he added.
He said that, “What we’re really looking at now is the potential of a second wave – not the second wave that we originally discussed. The second wave that we originally feared was from the theory of the 1918 pandemic where there was Phase One and then the virus mutated and came back in Phase Four. That’s not what we’re looking at here. This second wave would be man-made, not made by Mother Nature. It would not be mutation of the virus. It would be a wave that comes from the West and the South, a southwesterly wave that comes back to New York from the increase in the other states. We are painfully aware now that an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.”
Here’s a partial list for the interim Standards for Responsible Media Production Activities in New York State published in June:
-Responsible Parties must ensure that, for indoor media production facilities or locations, the presence of employees, cast, and crew members is limited to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy.
-Responsible Parties must prohibit live audiences unless they consist only of paid employees, cast, and crew. Employees, cast and crew may make up a live audience of no more than 100 individuals, or 25% the audience capacity, whichever is lower. Live audiences must maintain social distance of at least six feet in all directions.
-Responsible Parties must ensure that a distance of at least six feet is maintained between all employees, cast, and crew in all locations (e.g., meal areas, common areas, holding areas,trailers, video village, equipment areas) around the media production facility or location; provided that certain functions during media production may require coming within six feet of other individuals (e.g., wardrobe, hair, makeup, sound, filming, performing), Responsible Parties must identify such functions and implement a protocol for mitigation of risk for affected individuals.
-Responsible Parties must ensure that all employees, cast, and crew wear acceptable face coverings at all times within the media production facility or location, provided the individual is over the age of two and medically able to tolerate such a face covering.
-Performers may temporarily remove their face covering during performances or rehearsals, or when it interferes with a core activity such as hair, makeup, or wardrobe. Performers must don face coverings as soon as practicable following the above activities.
-Responsible Parties must limit the number of employees, cast, and crew to only essential individuals for both indoor and outdoor media production activities, and ensure that all social distancing guidelines are rigorously enforced. Any non-essential personnel and visitors (e.g., friends, family, guests, visitors) must be prohibited from entering the media production facility or location.
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