SAG-AFTRA & PGA halt productions in Southern California due to COVID surge

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Sag, Sag-AFTRA, PGA, Covid-19, southern California

The start of 2021 is looking a lot like March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began to shutter major productions. However, at the moment, this is only coming down on Southern California which has seen a huge spike in coronavirus cases and is witnessing a hospital system that is stretched so thin that they essentially have to pick and choose which patients to treat and which patients live or die. Due to hospitals hitting this crisis mode, SAG-AFTRA and the PGA have decided to halt in-person production in Southern California until at least mid-January in an attempt to slow the spread and keep people safe.

The news comes as major studios and streamers were already on hiatus due to the holiday break. Most shows were scheduled to return to production, today, January 6, 2021, but now SAG-AFTRA and organizations representing commercial advertisers and advertising agencies, and independent film and television producers, have reached an agreement on recommending a temporary hold on in-person production that will last until at least January 18, 2021. The hope is that the surge and hospital capacity will begin to ease in the coming weeks but it has been stated that this return date will continue to be assessed and if they need to extend it, they will do just that. The Producers' Guild of America (PGA) had this to say about the manner in the following statement:

"Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before. Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now. Even putting aside the risk of acquiring COVID on ser — a risk that we have done a great deal to mitigate through our safety protocols — on set production always poses some risk of injury, whether because of a stunt gone wrong, an equipment failure, or a garden-variety fall. Right now, with few, if any hospital beds available, it is hard to understand how a worker injured on set is supposed to seek treatment. I would like to thank the JPC and the PGA for their efforts to reinforce safety measures for all, and we acknowledge and appreciate the major studios and other producers who have proactively stepped up and postponed their production during this emergency."

SAG-AFTRA is recommending that their members in Southern California stay home and refrain from accepting on-set employment for the next several weeks. In the event that a Southern California-area SAG-AFTRA member is required to work during the next few weeks and has concerns about their safety on set, they are encouraged to reach out to the union. Stacy Marcus, Chief Negotiator for the JPC, is in agreement that the risks on productions in Southern California are too great right now:

"Commercial producers are strongly encouraged to reschedule their Southern California-area productions to a later date when the hospital capacity crisis has eased. It is simply too great a risk to performers, crew, and industry personnel to continue production knowing that hospitals are in crisis mode and the number of cases continues to rise."

If you're wondering which of your favorite shows will be affected by the production halt, the series span across Sony, Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal, to name a few. Some noteworthy shows that will halt until mid-January include The Goldbergs, Grey's Anatomy, Station 19, Black-ish, Mixed-ish, This Is Us, American Horror Story, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Shameless, Lucifer, and many more. All told, over thirty series have been affected by the latest production halt in Southern California.

SAG-AFTRA, the JPC, and the PGA will be in communication with members and the industry as the situation develops. It's really too hard to say right now when the situation will improve but they will be monitoring the situation closely and, at the end of the day, they will deliver the information needed to protect the community and their members.

Do YOU agree with the production halt in Southern California? How long do YOU think it will last?

Source: Deadline

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