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The Safe Way Forward Joint Report from the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, & Teamsters

June 12, 2020 | By

In the next major step toward the resumption of film and television production, the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) today released The Safe Way Forward, a Multi-Union Report on Covid-19 Safety Guidelines.

The Guidelines set forth a detailed set of science-based protocols serving as a path for Employers to uphold their responsibility of providing safe workplaces in a pre-vaccine, Covid-19 world. The Guidelines serve as an essential and necessary element of a return to work for the Unions and Guilds representing film and television casts and crews.

Developed jointly by the Unions and Guilds in consultation with leading epidemiologists and experts, the Guidelines are a follow-up to the Industry White Paper recently delivered to the Governors of New York and California, and other state governments.

While the White Paper offered a foundation for the appropriate state agencies to examine the resumption of production, and provides guidance Employers must follow to provide a safe working environment, it expressly contemplated that specific protocols regarding mandatory testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and department-specific procedures would be the subject of further discussions and agreement between the producers and the unions. Today’s Guidelines announced by the Unions and Guilds set forth key components of those detailed protocols.

The Unions and Guilds quickly determined that a comprehensive, mandatory testing regimen would need to be the cornerstone of a safe return to production in a pre-vaccine landscape. Without testing, the entire cast and crew would be working in an environment of unknown risk. Confirmed cases would be determined days after people have been shedding the virus – potentially endangering the health of cast and crew members.

Moreover, they could lead to the quarantining of others on set, and should those individuals include a key actor or director, to production delays or even a production shutdown. Not to mention the public health implications associated with cast and crew members interacting with the public and going home to their families.

In order to ensure these different sections of the production environment are tightly controlled, the Guidelines require the implementation of a specialized “Zone” system laying out barriers within which those on set can flow based on proximity to cast, level of testing, PPE and the extent to which physical distancing can be observed in the performance of their work. Cast and those with whom they come into frequent contact would be grouped in Zone A, while other individuals on set would be grouped in Zone B.

The Zone system is the structure and foundation around which all on-set Covid-19 safety decisions are engineered. A detailed tour of the inner-workings of the Zone system is included in the Guidelines.

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The full set of Guidelines, and a listing of the experts consulted by the Unions and Guilds, can be found here. The document will be updated with further specific safety protocols from IATSE locals, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters and the Basic Craft Unions as they are developed.

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