Hollywood Orgs Send Back-To-Work Proposals To Calif., NY

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (June 1, 2020, 11:42 PM EDT) -- A group of entertainment industry organizations and companies sent a proposal on Monday to the governors of California and New York setting forth guidelines for how to safely get motion picture productions up and running again amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, dubbed the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force, said virus testing, protective gear, social distancing and other measures will be crucial for getting entertainment industry employees back to work in the safest way possible.

One of the task force's key recommendations is for productions to designate specially trained COVID-19 compliance officers to deal with virus-related workplace issues.

"In addition to the COVID-19 compliance officer, there should be a communication/ hotline system to respond to all cast and crew safety questions and concerns (including pre-, post- and off-production offices/spaces)," the group said.

The task force acknowledged that there may be situations that necessarily present a high risk for virus transmission, like scenes that portray hand-to-hand fights or physical intimacy. But it also pointed out that there are elements of production, such as casting, that can be done either remotely or with the use of protective barriers.

At the same time, the task force said there's still a great deal of uncertainty around the pandemic and the medical consensus surrounding the disease.

"Several elements of the protocols including testing and [personal protective equipment] are subject to further discussion and agreement between the employers and the unions and guilds representing the cast and crew," the task force said. "As circumstances change, and public health officials issue new guidance, the protocols under which production occurs may be adjusted accordingly."

The task force said its participants include unions like the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in addition to major production companies like Amazon, Apple, Fox, HBO, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put out specific, virus-related guidance for some industries, but has recently come under fire for issuing only a single citation related to the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week issued a step-by-step blueprint on how to reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telling employers in no uncertain terms that getting back to business shouldn't mean business as usual.

The CDC said employers must help workers maintain six feet of separation through physical barriers or staggered shifts, consider conducting health checks and provide workers with enough time to maintain proper hygiene.

--Additional reporting by Braden Campbell and Kevin Stawicki. Editing by Emily Kokoll.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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