As we discussed in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter in April, the entertainment industry faces unique challenges as it plans to resume operations.  On May 20, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that California would release guidelines for reopening the entertainment industry by Memorial Day.  However, to date, California’s Public Health Officer has not released any targeted guidance regarding reopening the industry.

The industry took charge and established an industry-wide labor-management safety committee task force, comprised of representatives from SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, IATSE, a collection of studios and a number of other industry stakeholders (the “Task Force”).  Yesterday, the  Task Force released its Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Production During the COVID-19 Pandemic (the “Guidelines”), available here.

The Guidelines stress the importance of scientific and medical expertise and rely on current guidance from the CDC and OSHA, as well as input from a medical consultant, the Chief Infection Prevention Officer at UCLA Health.  Among key provisions, the Guidelines:

  • Require social distancing to the maximum extent possible, and provide specific suggestions relating to meetings, writers’ rooms, video village, audiences, casting, transportation and location scouting;
  • Stress the importance of regular, periodic COVID-19 testing;
  • Emphasize the need for flexible leave policies;
  • Encourage the use of universal symptom monitoring and daily personnel questionnaires;
  • Require that cast and crew be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment;
  • Describe hand washing protocols and require the provision of hand sanitizer;
  • Provide detailed cleaning protocols for facilities, vehicles and equipment; and
  • Mandate the designation of one or more dedicated COVID-19 Compliance Officer(s) to ensure adherence to safety protocols.

The Guidelines are designed to be used by government officials in creating safety protocols and, to that end, the Task Force shared them today with Governors of both New York and California.  The Guidelines note, overall, that production may resume only upon the approval of the public health authorities based on the Roadmap to Recovery framework and that a staged reopening process may be necessary.