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Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations Can Be Required on Set for Film and TV Productions

An agreement between Hollywood unions and major companies will allow film and TV sets to require Covid-19 vaccinations.

Shooting in the COVID era.

Floyd Russ

A new agreement between Hollywood unions and major companies will allow film and TV productions to require Covid-19 vaccinations on set. (Via Deadline.) The new return-to-work protocols, according to a joint statement, will give producers “the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis.” Zone A, where unmasked actors work, is the most restrictive of the safe work zones on sets. The DGA announced today the latest updates to return-to-work protocols, which expired on June 30 and did include the option of mandatory vaccination provisions.

The protocols include additional modifications to testing frequency for certain areas in the United States and Canada where Covid-19 incidence is, and remains, very low, as well as changes to outdoor masking requirements and updated mealtime protocols.

The new agreement arrives on the heels of last month’s announcement that SAG-AFTRA had adopted strict guidelines that give employers the power to require vaccinations as a condition of employment.

The updated agreement will remain in effect through September 30, 2021. It was originally reached last September between the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts. In the meantime, they promise to “continue closely monitoring Covid-19 developments and will consider further modifications at that time.”

In regards to vaccinations, the DGA said: “Producers must establish a way of clearly and visibly identifying an employee’s entitlement to work under the protocols for fully vaccinated individuals. Proof of vaccination may be established by 1) a digital vaccination card, a government sanctioned passport system (e.g. New York Excelsior Pass), a system maintained by the vaccination provider, or a system that verifies an individual’s status against government records; or 2) production of a physical vaccination card.”

The agreement leaves the decision up to producers.

“On a production-by-production basis, a producer may implement a policy providing that Zone A employees will be fully vaccinated against Covid-10 as a condition of employment.”

The agreement does relax mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals, such that masks may be removed outdoors, and decreases the amount of testing required for vaccinated employees. Individually wrapped meals are no longer required, and buffet-style meals will be allowed only for vaccinated employees.

“While we had hoped to further reduce many of the protocols, the growing infection rates simply did not allow us to do so at this time,” said the DGA. “As we have from the start, we continued to rely on the science with the goal of allowing production to continue while reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission on set.”

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