EXCLUSIVE: Once again one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies is closing the doors because of the coronavirus.
Just hours after Los Angeles County health officials unveiled a new indoor mask mandate to combat the surge of the Delta variant in the region, WME notified local staff that their sprawling Beverly Hills office will be closing down for at least a week.
“The new mandate will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, and while full details have yet to be released, we are making the decision to close our LA offices next week (July 19-23,” said an email that was sent out late last night. “As we have all learned, we cannot hope to predict the future and must be prepared to adapt as we receive new information—and that is exactly what we will continue to do,” the correspondence added, leaving the possibility of a longer shutdown of the WME LA office.
In point of fact, it appears that WME’s LA office is for all practical purposes shuttered today. In the email sent out Thursday night, the staff of several hundred were advised to make arrangements to gain “access” to grab any electronic devices or other material necessary for remote work.
WME reps had no comment on the new L.A. office closure when contacted by Deadline. The closure in LA does not affect WME’s NYC and Nashville offices, I’ve learned.
This preemptive move in the latest phase of the pandemic comes less than a week after WME staff actually returned to the Wilshire Blvd venue. The Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell run uberagency officially opened its doors after more than a year on July 12. In the past few days, WME has instigated strict Covid-19 safety protocols for everyone entered the building. Those measures saw a single positive test result that was quickly isolated via contract tracing, I hear.
Having told employees via email on Thursday that they are following health events closely, UTA opened its LA office on June 15 as the City of Angeles and the state itself reopened. As vaccinations became more widespread, CAA has had a more voluntary approach to agents and staff attending its Avenue of the Stars location.
With LA Covid positive tests up 500% in the last month and non-vaxxed individual making up almost all of the pandemic hospitalizations in the region, L.A. County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis yesterday announced the new mandate with no small degree of urgency.
As of late Saturday all customers will again be required to mask up when entering any indoor workplace and public establishment, including retail shops, grocery stores, and restaurants Dr. Davis and the County is allowing indoor dining to continue for now, but patrons will have to remain masked while they are not eating or drinking.
The highly transmissible Delta variant is now 71% of all sequences in L.A. County, Dr. Davis stated Thursday. As approximately 4 million of L.A.’s just under 10 million residents are still completely unvaccinated, the potential for growing transmission of the variant is extremely high.
We will update this story as it develops.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.