back-to-work guidelines

Hollywood is looking to get back to work amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since TV and film productions shut down unilaterally across the globe in March, studios and unions have been looking for ways to resume production while keeping crews and casts healthy. Now, a new report by labor unions and studios outlines back-to-work guidelines for the entertainment industry to start back up again.

Variety reports that a 22-page “white paper” was delivered Monday to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom, along with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, containing the blueprint for resuming film and TV productions. The report contains dozens of recommendations for physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature checks, and other precautions typical of businesses that are re-opening amid the pandemic.

“Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the report said. “Cast and crew must practice physical distancing whenever possible. Physical distancing involves maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from any other person at all times, except when doing so is incompatible with one’s job duties. Cast and crew should avoid congregating in groups. When practical, separate work locations into zones to facilitate physical distancing.”

The report recommends that actors as well as crew who work closely with performers, like hair and make-up artists, wear masks and “observe hand hygiene practices immediately after completing the task” while all cast and crew should be required to participate in daily temperature checks.

The guidelines list pretty typical precautions for businesses that are slowly reopening amid the pandemic — masks, temperature checks, social distancing. But the report offers a dramatically different vision of Hollywood, one that will likely run much more slowly and more carefully than ever before. There’s also the added recommendation of an “autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s)” on sets to specialize in enforcing coronavirus safety measures:

“Specific duties and responsibilities of the COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s) may include, but are not limited to, overseeing and monitoring physical distancing, testing, symptom monitoring, disinfecting protocols, and PPE education, protocols and adherence and such other duties as may be determined by the employer. A COVID-19 Compliance Officer shall be accessible in the workplace at all times during work hours and all personnel should have access to the COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s). All cast and crew shall be informed who the COVID-19 Compliance Officer is and how to contact him or her.”

It’s just another person to work on sets, which will likely have to operate in limited capacities to allow for the social distancing required during the pandemic. Could this mean that crew members will have to take on double duty for other tasks? Will filming slow down to a snail’s pace because of the sanitary measures that have to be implemented? It’s still too early to tell, but this report, which is the result of a collaborative effort by the The Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force could give us an indication of how Hollywood will work over the next few years. The task force, which is a group of around 50 participants from Hollywood production companies, unions, and guilds, was organized through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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