Hollywood studios are backing away from blanket vaccine mandates on some productions. The projects were told vaccines were no longer required for those in “Zone A” — typically the project’s leading actors and key crewmembers who work closely with them in the highest-risk areas of the set. Netflix has dropped mandatory vaccine mandates on all new and returning shows from previous seasons. Paramount has done the same for some categories of productions since February.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has urged the guild’s national board to review the “latest scientific information about the vaccine’s efficacy” before agreeing to extend the industry’s mandate. She pointed to “thousands of unvaccinated members still unable to work.” “I must applaud Disney for taking the position,” she said in a video. She defended the policy: “So to think every human can take one vaccine is ludicrous. And to make that one vaccine the criteria for who is allowed to work, travel, dine, go to the theater, etc. is an infringement on the disabilities act, the freedom of religion act and body sovereignty.”
The unions and studios are also reserving the right to reinstitute past protocols. Revisions to the return-to-work agreement in October included changes to the criteria for when the most stringent protocols go into effect, from positive cases to hospitalizations. The modification could mean that even if there’s an uptick in cases in the next few months, the strictest protocols will only be implemented if those illnesses result in hospitalizations — a threshold less likely to be triggered than positive cases that could misrepresent the rate at which people are contracting the virus.
An entertainment attorney, Bryan Sullivan, says studios are still wary of production suspensions caused by virus outbreaks but no longer believe mandates incentivize people to get the vaccine. “At this point, everybody willing to get vaccinated has gotten vaccinated,” he says. “The studios, or certainly Disney, see the mandate as unnecessary to protect the set.”
– Excerpt from an article for The Hollywood Reporter by Winston Cho. Read the full article here.
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