Hollywood’s unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have agreed to extend their Covid protocols through April 1, with only minor changes, including the elimination of pre-employment and weekly Covid testing for some crew members.
The protocols will keep in place a mandate that gives employers the limited option to require vaccinations as a condition of employment. The protocols had been set to expire on January 31.
Unions signing off on the new agreement include the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Teamsters Local 399, IBEW Local 40, LiUNA! Local 724, OPCMIA Local 755 and UA Local 78.
In a joint statement, the unions said that the “agreement ensures continued protection for industry workers while reflecting updated modifications consistent with current conditions.”
“The new agreement maintains the bedrock principles and practical approaches that have kept the industry working safely since shortly after the onset of the pandemic,” the unions said. “This extension maintains core protocols in case the current situation rapidly changes while permitting additional modifications reflecting improved conditions in most areas.
“Specifically, there are no changes to Part 1 of the agreement, which requires the strictest protocols be implemented on productions occurring in any metropolitan area or county with 14 or more Covid-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population. At this time, most production areas are working under Part II of the agreement or expected to be shortly, however, should conditions change with a new surge in cases, the proven effective stronger protocols would be required.
“The new agreement has the following two specific modifications to Part II, which are the protocols most productions are working under currently. For Zones B & C pre-employment testing is no longer required. Additionally, weekly testing is no longer required for employees in Zone B, however, if an employee in Zone B (or C) has come into “close contact with an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19, the Producer is required to make a Covid-19 test available to the employee upon the employee’s request. There are no changes in the agreement regarding Zone A testing.
“In addition, the agreement grants a bank of five additional sick days and no longer requires the Covid Compliance Supervisor to be physically present on the production, provided that a member of the compliance team is accessible at all times during working hours.
“Other than these modifications, all other provisions remain in full force and effect. In all cases, the full set of stricter protocols will be reintroduced if there is a Covid-19 surge. The parties will continue closely monitoring COVID-19 developments.”
First enacted in September 2020 after a months-long production shutdown, the COVID-19 Safety Agreement is the outcome of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between the unions and collaboration with employers. The agreement reflects science-based protocols that minimize the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission across the industry’s unique work environments. The protocols have driven a successful rebound of film and television production while prioritizing safety for casts, crews, and industry workers.
First adopted on September 21, 2020, the protocols enabled jobs and productions to rebound after an industrywide lockdown early on in the pandemic. The protocols have been extended numerous times since then, and in July 2021 were amended 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.
The mandate is “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.” But many vaccination-mandate opponents say that those exceptions are too rarely allowed.