No Mandatory Vaccines In Film & TV Industry’s Updated Return-To-Work Protocols

By: David Robb



EXCLUSIVE: Covid-19 vaccinations of casts and crews will not be mandatory on film and TV productions under the industry’s newly renegotiated return-to-work protocols, which now extend to June 30. “To mandate at this point may be premature,” a source told Deadline. “That subject has been skirted.”

The source noted, however, that cast and crew members still should get vaccinated, “but nothing is mandatory.” The new agreement, is a “pretty much a straightforward extension” of those that were set to expire on Friday, the source said.

The original return-to-work agreement was reached between management’s Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and Hollywood’s unions agreement with Hollywood’s unions – SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, the Teamsters and the Basic Crafts – on September 21, nearly three months before the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in the U.S. Even though vaccines now are widely available, they won’t be mandatory on film and TV sets until at least June 30, when the current extension expires.

The extension of the current agreement contains all of the provisions of the original, including strictly enforced testing regimens, physical distancing, Covid-19 compliance officers, diligent use of personal protective equipment, and a “Zone” system to ensure that different sections of the production are tightly controlled based on proximity to cast, who often can’t wear masks or maintain social distancing while working. Union officials have observed that these protocols have made film sets among the safest places to work in America during the pandemic.

Like the old protocols, the newly extended agreement gives workers 10 days of Covid-19 paid sick leave starting May 1 and running through Dec. 10. Those who used all 10 sick days during the run of the old agreement will get 10 more, but unused days won’t be added to the 10 that are now available.

See the letter extending the agreement and the new Covid-19 paid sick-leave policy here.
The no mandatory vaccinations stipulation is interesting, given the new CDC guidance relaxing mask requirements for fully-vaccinated Americans in outdoor congregate settings. That guidance was adopted by Los Angeles County this week, but will not extend to workplaces.

In response to a question specifically about film and TV productions, L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told Deadline on Thursday that, “In our health officer order, we’re not changing any of our guidelines.” She did however indicate that, long term, there may be adjustments for fully-vaccinated workers.

“We are looking at — with CDC — adjustments for workplaces where everyone is fully vaccinated,” said Ferrer, before noting that any such changes were a long way off.