Calif. Gives Hollywood A Green Light To Restart Production

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (June 5, 2020, 10:26 PM EDT) -- California authorities announced on Friday that the state's entertainment industry can get up and running again by next week, laying out some basic guidelines for restarting production amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Music, TV and film production can get going after June 12 with the approval of county public health officers, the California Department of Public Health said in a news release.

"To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers," the agency said, adding that management should adhere to the guidance put out by local health and labor authorities.

The announcement comes just days after a group of entertainment industry organizations and companies sent a proposal to the governors of California and New York outlining a back-to-work plan.

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.

The task force acknowledged that there may be situations that necessarily present a high risk for virus transmission, such as 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.

The task force said its participants include unions such as 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 such as 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 & 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 6 feet of separation through physical barriers or staggered shifts, consider conducting health checks and provide workers with enough time to maintain proper hygiene.

--Editing by Jay Jackson Jr.

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