SAG-AFTRA has announced that the majority of their productions in California will be on hiatus until early next year. The news comes after the Los Angeles Health Department asked the entertainment industry to pause productions. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White updated the labor union website with more COVID-19 filming protocols and recognized the surges that are currently happening in the Los Angeles area. Carteris and White acknowledged a need for "immediate action."
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health asked the major studios to "strongly consider" pausing current productions in LA County due to the public health crisis. The office asked, "Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases. Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible." SAG-AFTRA had this to say in a statement.
"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."
The labor union is going to continue to closely monitor the situation in order to make sure the crews can get back to work in a safe manner. California Governor Gavin Newsom just extended the regional stay-at-home order with no specific end date in sight, which means that a lot more people are going to be continuing to stay home and not going to work. The health department especially wants productions that involve traveling to take a break for obvious reasons.
Governor Gavin Newsom says that California residents must "prepare ourselves for what is inevitable now, based upon the travel that we have seen just in the last week and expectation of more of the same through the rest of the holiday season." Most major studios were getting back to work over the summer and during the fall, but it looks like most of Southern California productions will go back on hiatus, at least for the time being.
Pandemic safety protocols are constantly being updated as situations continue to change. Whatever the case may be, it looks like stopping completely for a handful of weeks will be the best way to keep casts and crews safe through this current surge. In the meantime, the labor union is urging members to "adhere to safety principals to protect yourselves, your families, communities and colleagues," over the next few weeks. As for when everything will get back to some form of normalcy, that is unclear at this moment. The Hollywood Reporter was one of the first outlets to announce SAG-AFTRA's decision to shut down productions in LA County.