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Hollywood studios, guilds release reopening plan for movie, TV production during COVID-19

Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

Auditions behind plexiglass, staggered crew meals, frequent testing and coronavirus compliance officers are some of the recommended guidelines a Hollywood task force has set for resuming movie and TV production "in an environment that minimizes the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19."

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force – whose members include Walt Disney, Netflix, CBS and other top studios, producers and the major Hollywood unions – submitted its recommendations in a 22-page report Monday to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as wells other government agencies across the country.

What the agencies will do with the report is unclear. But it gives a glimpse of what film and TV work could look like in the years ahead after the pandemic completely shut down production in March.

An industry task force has set up guidelines to resume movie and TV production after the Hollywood COVID-19 shutdown.

The report recommendations include:

  • Regular, periodic testing: "Employers should advise cast and crew that they will be subject to testing as a condition of employment and of continued employment."
  • Use of face coverings at all times when on set or in production studios, with equipment provided by the studio.
  • Cast and crew should be trained on hand hygiene practices (washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, scrubbing all surfaces) and stations with alcohol-based sanitizer should be "readily available."
  • Meal times should be staggered "to avoid the gathering of large groups in the same location at the same time."
  • The well-known communal "buffet style" food service on sets should be eliminated, including salad bars, trays of food, or any food that requires sharing of utensils. Meals and snacks should be served in individually packaged or wrapped portions. 
  • An autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officer with specialized training and responsibility and authority for safety compliance and enforcement should be in the workplace to address issues as they arise. 
  • In addition to the compliance officer, there should be a communication/ hotline system to respond to all cast and crew safety questions and concerns.
  • Whenever possible, move to a virtual writers’ room. When not possible, maintain six feet of distance.
  • The use of live audiences is discouraged at this time. On a case-by-case basis, live audiences may be used as long as audience members wear face coverings at all times, maintain six feet of distance and undergo symptom screening.
  • While activities such as fight scenes or intimate scenes increase the risk of transmission, "whenever possible, performers shall practice physical distancing." The report suggests, "consider measures to minimize scenes with close contact between performers, such as amending scripts or use of digital effects."
  • Casting should be conducted virtually via self-tape, or online video conference. If not possible, the report suggests maintaining social distancing for in-person auditions while placing a plexiglass partition between the performers and the  observers that is "cleaned between performances along with any furniture, props, etc." 

Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, praised the report  in a statement, stating, "our industry now has a roadmap that will make it safe for hundreds of thousands of production workers throughout the United States to begin returning to work. We are confident this union-management collaboration will be embraced by state and local governments."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hollywood releases movie production reopening plan during COVID-19