In the aftermath of the Omicron-driven outbreak of illnesses, a group of Hollywood studios and unions is exploring making modifications to current COVID-19 safety regulations for film sets.
The contract that governs how film and television crews returned to work after the outbreak ends on Jan. 15. According to two people familiar with the talks who were not authorised to speak publicly, there have been discussions between unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers about how to address the current surge in cases, including potentially increasing the amount of testing on sets.
“We’re trying to figure out what we can do to help,” said Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 399, which represents casting directors, site managers, and drivers. He remained tight-lipped about the exact actions under consideration. “We’re continually searching for ways to refine the procedures and make adjustments as spikes occur,” says the researcher.
The rise in cases in L.A. County has had no influence on Hollywood productions so far, since most had already ceased for the holidays until the new year. While it’s too early to say how the recent increase in cases will affect productions when they resume in January, there has been no evidence of a winter shutdown like the one that kept the film industry from returning to work until the end of January last year.
The newest season of “The Crown,” which was filming its fifth season in the United Kingdom, is the most high-profile victim of the rise. The drama, which is slated to be released in November 2022, will focus on the most traumatic moment in modern British history – Prince Charles’s stormy failed marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales. Elizabeth Debicki has been cast as the elder Diana, while Dominic West has been cast as Prince Charles.
However, due to a few positive COVID-19 instances inside the production, the Netflix programme had to end filming a day earlier than anticipated for the Christmas break earlier this month, Netflix stated in a statement.
This week, Los Angeles County recorded one of the largest single-day coronavirus case numbers in its history, with the positive rate more than tripling. Some Hollywood companies have been forced to close for the holidays early or for an extended period of time.
These precautions, which include testing, social distance, and mask-wearing, have managed to keep breakouts on set under control during the last year. Even as the Delta edition of COVID-19 made its presence known in Hollywood this summer, output fell back to pre-pandemic levels, owing to increased demand for material from streaming providers eager to make up on backlogs.