Hollywood’s Covid safety protocols have been extended to April 30 and updated to redefine “fully vaccinated” to include booster shots, effective March 15.
The updated rules also upgrade mask requirements to include KN95, KF94 or N95 masks that are to be provided by the employer; add a number of additional antigen tests that are authorized for use in testing for Covid-19; and refreshes funding for the Covid-19 sick leave bank for all cast and crew to 10 days.
The updated protocols were reached by an agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and Hollywood’s unions, including SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts.
In a message to his members, SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that the unions and the companies “have agreed to extend the Return-to-Work Agreement until April 30, 2022, with a few changes that reflect the evolving circumstances of the pandemic.”
“Member safety is SAG-AFTRA’s highest priority,” he wrote. “Working with our sister unions, the protocols were crafted based on scientific consensus and the best data available. Since the protocols were implemented on Sept. 21, 2020, they have proven extremely effective in protecting cast and crew from undue Covid risk in the workplace. To remain successful, the system requires everyone’s cooperation.”
The film and TV industry’s protocols were established in September 2020 by an agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and Hollywood’s unions: the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts.
The return-to-work protocols, which have enabled jobs and productions to rebound during the pandemic, originally were set to expire on April 30, 2021, but were extended with no major modifications and contained all of the original agreement’s provisions, including strictly enforced testing regimens, physical distancing, Covid compliance officers, diligent use of personal protective equipment and a “Zone” system to ensure that different sections of productions are tightly controlled based on proximity to cast, who often can’t wear masks or maintain social distancing while working.
After vaccines became widely available, the protocols were amended last July to give producers “the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis.” Zone A, where unmasked actors work, is the most restrictive of the safe work zones on sets.
Set to expire again on October 31, the protocols were extended to January 15 with all the same mandates for testing, masking, quarantining and vaccinations “consistent with current CDC guidelines.” They were extended again last month until Feb. 13 and have now been extended through April 30.
See the protocols here.
The protocols’ “Mandatory Vaccination” section states: “Where permitted by law, a Producer may implement a policy providing that the following individuals must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition of employment and/or prior to entering the workplace, subject to reasonable accommodations as required by law for individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance: (1) ‘Zone A’ employees provided that the FDA has approved or authorized vaccines for use for individuals in the employee’s age group and the approved or authorized vaccines are generally available to individuals in the employee’s age group; and (2) Studio Teachers and any other individuals who come into close contact with minors.”