Amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates in Los Angeles, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”) announced an extension of and modifications to the existing Return-to-Work Agreement between the Directors Guild of America, the AMPTP, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, and other industry stakeholders. The prior iteration of the Agreement had been set to expire on July 15, 2022.
Initially implemented in September 2020, the Agreement sets forth the rules regarding COVID-19 safety on guild productions. It has undergone several extensions and modifications over the last two years, including in July 2021, February 2022, and May 2022. The September 2020 Agreement was, in large part, an outgrowth of the initial Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force’s White Paper, about which we previously reported here.
The latest Agreement keeps in place the COVID-19 hospitalization rates’ driven trigger for the more stringent protocol that was set forth in the May 2022 version of the Agreement. Specifically, the more rigorous safety measures are triggered for productions in metropolitan areas, counties, or provinces in the U.S. or Canada where 8 or more new weekly COVID hospitalization admissions are reported per 100,000 people over a 7-day period on covidactnow.org.
The website is maintained by Act Now, a data assessment non-profit organization. According to the website, Los Angeles County has a hospital admissions rate of 11 per 100,000 as of July 20, meeting the trigger threshold.
The most recent iteration of the Agreement, which went into effect on July 16, 2022, modifies the more stringent COVID-19 protocol, such that (1) self-serve food service that requires employees to share utensils is limited to fully vaccinated workers; and (2) while Producer-provided transportation may operate at full capacity, all cast and crew must wear face masks. Limited exceptions apply, e.g. where a cast member is in make-up, at which time passengers are required to observe physical distancing.
Other preexisting protocols, such as those pertaining to mandatory health screenings and periodic testing requirements set forth in the earlier versions of the Agreement remain in effect.
When hospitalization rates fall below the threshold, productions may adhere to the less stringent protocol enumerated in the Agreement. When that will be the case for Los Angeles County remains to be seen, but this version of the Agreement is set to expire on September 30, 2022. We will continue to monitor the Agreement and provide updates as they occur.