Oct. 1, 2022 -- Movie, TV, and theatrical productions will continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocols as unions and studios negotiate a new return-to-work agreement, according to the Directors Guild of America.

The current agreement, which was previously scheduled to expire on Friday, will be extended until the groups reach a new compromise. First adopted in September 2020, the agreement was originally set to expire in April 2021 but has been extended several times. 

The safety protocols have allowed industry productions to move forward during the pandemic, taking into account the potential risk of infection among actors and crew members based on the production location and employee vaccination status. During the past two years, revised agreements have included rules for mandatory vaccination, physical distancing, COVID compliance officers, travel and transportation restrictions, and testing and mask requirements while filming or on stage.

Several weeks ago, talks over a new version began between several unions — including the Directors Guild of America (DGA), Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Hollywood Basic Crafts, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters — and the negotiating entity for studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Many producers and directors have said they plan on instructing productions to comply with protocols in the current agreement, regardless of whether the requirements are loosened, according to The Hollywood Reporter

In recent weeks, SAG-AFTRA has had internal debates about the safety protocols, the news outlet reported. An outspoken group in the organization has opposed certain aspects of the vaccine requirements for actors and crew members. Despite a board meeting in mid-September, however, the union decided not to modify any policies regarding vaccine mandates.

When the industry-wide agreement underwent a renegotiation in July, unions and studios made two small changes to protocols around transportation and meals in locations where COVID case numbers are high, the news outlet reported.

Now that the current infection rates are low around Hollywood, Los Angeles County health officials have ended a rule requiring masks on public transportation. However, a potential fall or winter surge in infections could change the precautions again, the news outlet reported.

Show Sources

Directors Guild of America: “DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters and the Hollywood Basic Crafts Announce Continuation of Negotiations Regarding Covid-19 Safety Agreement.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “COVID Return-to-Work Agreement Extended Temporarily as Talks Continue.”

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