SAG-AFTRA: Productions in Los Angeles Will Go On Hiatus Until Mid-January

Close-up on a red closed sign in the window of a shop displaying the message
Close-up on a red closed sign in the window of a shop displaying the message "Closed due to Covid-19".

SAG-AFTRA announces most TV and film productions will remain on hiatus until mid-January 2021

Following the surge in coronavirus COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles, and just hours after state officials announced an indefinite stay-at-home order for Southern California, SAG-AFTRA told members on Tuesday night that “most” film and TV productions will stay on hiatus until at least the middle of January.

Hospitals across the Los Angeles area are running at zero capacity. In fact, many ICUs are full, and some hospitals reporting they had to turn gift shops into makeshift rooms and even turn patients away. At least 5 LA hospitals are reporting problems reliving oxygen due to the huge spike in demand caused by the COVID-19 cases.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David White wrote in a letter to members on Tuesday, “This is deeply concerning to us all, and we have taken immediate action to connect with our epidemiologists and public health experts regarding the surge in cities across the nation,” they wrote.

“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 letter continued.

They added SAG-AFTRA is in “close contact with our sister unions and guilds, the industry, our expert epidemiologists, industrial sanitation specialists, public health officials, member leaders, and staff” in order to ensure safe working conditions for members when work resumes.

The letter also urges members to  “remain vigilant and adhere to the safety principles,” including the universal wearing of masks and hygienic practices like washing hands.”

You can read the full letter below:

We are writing to let you know that we are closely monitoring the recent surge in COVID-19 infections along with the reported lack of intensive care unit (ICU) beds throughout the state of California and particularly in Los Angeles County. This is deeply concerning to us all, and we have taken immediate action to connect with our epidemiologists and public health experts regarding the surge in cities across the nation.

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.

To ensure the utmost safety, we are in close contact with our sister unions and guilds, the industry, our expert epidemiologists, industrial sanitation specialists, public health officials, member leaders, and staff. We remain focused on ensuring the safest possible work environment and protocols for SAG-AFTRA members.

We will continue to monitor this situation and its impact on production and employment in all contract areas and will take appropriate measures as needed to ensure the continued safety of our members and others.

In the meantime, we urge you all to remain vigilant and adhere to the safety principles to protect yourselves, your families, communities, and colleagues. Always wear your masks, maintain safe physical distancing, wash hands frequently and well, and follow the public health recommendations for preventing the spread of infectious disease. For a refresher on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19, review the SAG-AFTRA Safety Tips. Thank you for staying safe and taking action to protect yourself and others during this pandemic. Please continue to monitor your emails for updates over the coming days and weeks.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyful New Year.

In unity,

Gabrielle Carteris SAG-AFTRA President

David White SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director

In relevant news, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is pushing film productions currently filming in the area to “Strongly Consider” shutting down their operations for the next few weeks following a continued surge in COVID-19 cases.

According to FilmLA, in an email sent to the county’s film industry influencers on December 24, the LADPH wrote the following:

“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.”

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