Yesterday, Below the Line reported on a message from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) suggesting that the TV and film industry pause production during the surging number of COVID case and deaths across the county, filling hospitals to capacity. The actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, has taken that advice to heart and gone one step further by telling its members that “most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January, if not later.” Presumably, the SAG-AFTRA decision was based on the LADPH’s suggestion.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White stated in an Email to members: “We are writing to let you know that we are closely monitoring the recent surge in Covid-19 infections along with the reported lack of intensive care unit beds throughout the state of California and particularly in Los Angeles County. This is deeply concerning to us all and we have taken immediate action to connect with our epidemiologists and public health experts regarding the surge in cities across the nation.
“Most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January if not later. This means that the number of our member performers working on sets right now is reduced. Our safety protocols ensure appropriate precautions for the holiday hiatus period including additional time for testing prior to the resumption of production.
“To ensure the utmost safety, we are in close contact with our sister unions and guilds, the industry, our expert epidemiologists, industrial sanitation specialists, public health officials, member leaders and staff. We remain focused on ensuring the safest possible work environment and protocols for SAG-AFTRA members.
“We will continue to monitor this situation and its impact on production and employment in all contract areas and will take appropriate measures as needed to ensure the continued safety of our members and others.
“In the meantime, we urge you all to remain vigilant and adhere to the safety principles to protect yourselves, your families, communities and colleagues. Always, wear your masks, maintain safe physical distancing, wash hands frequently and well, and follow the public health recommendations for preventing the spread of infectious disease.”
Update/Addendum: Below the Line has learned that many CBS shows are delaying the start of production for one week, including NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and SEAL Team, the CBS All Access series Why Women Kill are delaying their starts a week until January 11. Disney+’s Diary of a Future President is doing the dame. All of them were supposed to restart on Monday, January 4, but are delaying the starts due to the rise of COVID cases in Los Angeles.