Hollywood unions reach agreement with AMPTP to relax Covid protocols in low hospitalization areas

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Hollywood unions have reached an agreement with management’s AMPTP on revised Covid-19 protocols. In a statement, the unions said the new agreement “creates a more flexible set of protocols for areas of the United States and Canada with low Covid hospital admissions, while retaining the basic elements to ensure the assembly security. The unions – SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, Teamsters and Basic Crafts – said the deal was reached “with the continued commitment to protect the cast, crew and all workers on set at light of the changing impact of Covid-19.”

The changes only apply to areas that have confirmed low Covid hospital admissions (such as Los Angeles), largely leaving requirements in place for areas experiencing increased admission rates (potentially, New York) . These workplace practices apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated cast and crew.

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Testing protocols are as follows: Pre-employment testing is still required for all crew, but with changes to the types of testing allowed. Testing will still be required on a rolling weekly basis during production for Zones A and B, but their frequency will be reduced. Zones C and D do not require testing beyond pre-employment. Zone A, where unmasked actors work, is the most restrictive of the protocol’s secure working areas on the sets.

Under the new guidelines, masking will not be required in most settings, with the specific exception of shuttles. Other changes include meal service flexibility and transportation rules.

The following terms of the current agreement remain in effect:

Vaccination: The new agreement continues to allow employers to require Zone A employees to be “up to date” on their vaccinations, including a booster.

COVID Compliance Supervisor: Hiring of a dedicated COVID-19 Compliance Supervisor responsible for security compliance and enforcement, who will be accessible to cast and crew at all times during working hours.

Quarantine Pay and Sick Leave: All employees will continue to receive 10 days paid Covid sick leave, and the leave can be used for any of the eligible Covid events, such as testing positive, exhibiting symptoms, isolation or self-quarantine, or when a member of their household tests positive for Covid-19.

The agreement also allows employers to impose stricter masking and testing requirements depending on production circumstances.

The agreement will remain in effect until July 15, 2022. The unions said they would continue to monitor Covid developments closely and consider further changes at that time.

First adopted in September 2020 after a months-long production shutdown, the unions said the Covid safety agreement “is the result of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between unions and a collaboration with employers to develop science-based protocols that minimize the risk of Covid-19 virus transmission in the industry’s unique work environments Since then, the protocols have resulted in a successful rebound in film production and television while prioritizing the safety of cast, crew and all workers on set.

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