The Hollywood COVID protocols will stay in place for now, as the unions announced an extension on Friday night. However, the protocols, which have been in business for two years, were set to expire on Friday night. The industry unions — including SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and the Directors Guild of America — have been negotiating an update to the rules with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The current Agreement, scheduled to expire today, Sept. 30, will remain in place until a new Agreement is reached, the unions said in a joint statement.
The latest significant change to the rules came in May when the two sides agreed to relax testing requirements and allow workers to go without masks. Since then, COVID case numbers have seen a modest increase and then a modest decline in Los Angeles County.
L.A. County health officials have eased up on mask requirements in other settings, like jails and homeless facilities, in recent weeks. Earlier in the summer, the county considered implementing an indoor mask mandate but backed off as infection numbers stabilized. In entertainment, crews continue to abide by the hollywood covid protocols that divide production spaces into four zones acccording to the Hollywood Covid Protocols for each. Employers can also impose vaccine mandates in Zone A, including everyone physically present on set or in contact with actors.
The rules also cover things like physical distancing and testing frequency. The Hollywood COVID protocols have added considerably to production costs, with one study finding an increase of 5% to 6.5% for big-budget projects. Additional expenses include COVID safety officers, testing materials, and quarantine stipends.