The pandemic brought the world to nearly a pause. Several industries were hit hard and so did Hollywood. As the COVID-19 cases started rising, things went from bad to worse. The halts in production, delays in the release, and theatres pulling down their shutters impacted the entertainment sector in a hard way. It also meant a loss in sales. OTT in such times proved to be a savior for the entertainment industry and continues to do so.
As the situation stays worrisome, the entertainment industry, top Guilds, and studios have decided to once again extend the return-to-work agreement keeping the current COVID-19 situation in mind. The protocols were first launched in September 2020 which got extended till July 2021 and were further expanded and finally expired on September 30, 2021.
Late last year, the guilds and studios “agreed to extend the Agreement to February 13, 2022,” the DGA wrote to members in an update email on January 22, 2022. The AMPTP confirmed the same with The Hollywood Reporter on Monday. The Guild also mentioned that the protocols can also be further extended and changes can be made according to the situation in early February.
Directors Guild of America (DGA) added in his member email that the agreement was made before the Omicron wave and as the variant is easily spreading, the union reached out to the producers and asked them to take more safety measures because of rising cases. The extra safety measures also include daily testing for Zone A (where the activity is done without physical distancing or PPE use) and more routine testing for Zone B (Use of PPE and strict physical distancing practices are followed and executed). “Preferably two or three times per week; improved PPE, especially the use of N95, KN95 or KF94 masks; and “promotion of vaccine boosters. Most studios took our concerns seriously and adopted these measures on their productions,” The Guild added in the message.
The protocol extension is agreed upon between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios in labor negotiations, represents more than 350 American television and film production companies, and also representatives from the Hollywood unions. Director Guild, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and Teamsters Local 399.
In late December, Omicron cases were increasing in the Los Angeles area.
The increase in cases between December 16 and January 16 was recorded by a seven-day average of the daily new Covid-19 variant. It has a spike from 1640 to 43,838, according to The New York Times data.
The increasing cases led to delays in the production in the Los Angeles area and many other projects were put in waiting till the time cases were dropped down until they file for on-location film permits, according to a report from FilmLA.
“It’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant and that we are in the end game. On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization, said on Monday.