The COVID-19 guidelines that have maintained for the past three years the safety of molds and crews during production amid the pandemic will expire on May 12.
The current iteration of the agreement, negotiated by industry unions and major studios and broadcasters represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), will remain in effect through May 11. It was announced Thursday, with entertainment federations confirming the news later in the day. Hollywood Reporter I mentioned that the agreement will likely expire as early as Thursday.
“Over the past three years, workers throughout the entertainment community have benefited from our strong protections that exceed the practices of many other industries,” a coalition of unions including the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. “With the public health emergency now over and the COVID-19 Safety Agreement over, individual employers continue to bear the responsibility for ensuring safe workplaces for their employees, but must seek a separate agreement with applicable joint unions before implementing any of the COVID safety protocols. “
Even after the agreement ends, film and television production workers will still be able to use a bank of five temporary COVID-19 paid sick leave between April 2 and December 31 if they contract COVID or if another covered COVID occurs.
The decision also appears to have ended any vaccine mandates on new products beginning after May 12. “Any production that implemented a mandatory vaccination policy for employees in Region A prior to May 12, 2023 may continue to apply this mandatory vaccination policy to the remainder of the production (or season, in the case of a series), AMPTP said in its statement.
However, testing for COVID-19 will still occur in select cases involving scenes of intimacy, the unions noted in their joint statement. The unions stated: “SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP have reached an understanding on a testing regimen for performers participating in intimate scenes to ensure their safety and well-being”. No further details were provided at the time of publication of this news.
The parties note that the last day of the agreement will coincide with the planned date when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ends the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.
AMPTP has periodically updated and expanded these safety protocols with the American Directors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters and Core Crafts Associations since the agreement was first drawn up in September 2020. The current version of the agreement is set to expire on April 1, but instead of Extending or revising the agreement – which the parties involved have done on several occasions over the past few years – the parties decided to terminate it.
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