Hollywood Unions, Studios Extend COVID-19 Protocols as Negotiations Continue

Though COVID-19 cases have steadily declined over the past two months in Los Angeles and across the U.S., Hollywood’s labor unions and studios have agreed to extend the enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols on production sets as they continue to negotiate a new agreement.

“The Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Hollywood Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), today announced a continuation of negotiations of the Return to Work agreement while discussions continue with the AMPTP,” the guilds said in a joint statement.

“The current Agreement, which was previously scheduled to expire today, September 30, will remain in place until a new Agreement is reached.”

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The Return to Work Agreement, which outlines the protocols on mask-wearing, social distancing, vaccine mandates and other measures to protect the spread of COVID-19 on sets, has been in effect since shooting resumed in September 2020.

This is the ninth time that the Return to Work Agreement has been extended, with few major modifications being made over the past two years. The first major change came in July 2021, when unions agreed to give studios the option on a “production-by-production basis” to require vaccinations among cast and crew working in “Zone A,” the section of sets where filming takes place.

The second major change came this past May, when new provisions were added to loosen testing and mask requirements for productions shooting in areas where COVID-19 hospitalization rates are low.

Labor sources have told TheWrap that plans on when and how to phase out the Return to Work Agreement would not necessarily be tied to state and federal changes in COVID-19 protocols, and so far this is how enforcement of the measures has played out.

Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control continued its loosening of COVID-19 safety recommendations, no longer recommending universal masking in hospitals and other healthcare settings unless they are in areas experiencing “high rates of transmission” as determined by the CDC scale. Currently 73% of the U.S. falls under that category.