SAG-AFTRA recommends temporary production halt in SoCal amid COVID-19 surge

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hollywood has ramped up production after being shut down at the start of the pandemic, but with the record surge of new cases, the powerful union that represents actors and independent producers wants to put a hold on production in Southern California once again.

Ever since an elaborate production protocol agreement was created this summer, SAG-AFTRA says Hollywood productions have returned to anywhere between 80 and 90% of pre-pandemic levels, and according to the union's national executive director, so far, so good.

"The protocols that we put in place, we the unions and guilds, working in collaboration with the studios, working in collaboration with other employers, those are working," said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White.

But with the hospital capacity crisis in Southern California on top of a holiday surge, the union is taking it a step further, recommending a temporary hold on production, targeting commercials and independent productions since major studios have already extended their typical holiday hiatus to mid-January.

"A stunt that's gone wrong or somebody who's dancing being injured or any of the number of things that can happen on a set," he said. "If a hospital is unable to accommodate an individual, then we have a problem for reasons that are unrelated to COVID-19."

Actress Carolyn Hennesy was set to return to General Hospital this week, but now won't be able to return for another two weeks. She doesn't think the production pause is necessary.

"I get it, but I also know what we do and with regard to taking those precautions and so I don't see, other than filming scenes in hazmat suits, I don't see how we can do anymore," Hennesy said.

Actress Frances Fisher was on the set of a TV series recently and felt safe, but believes cracking down on the industry as a whole is important right now, especially with daily hire situations, like commercials.

"Our industry is being extra careful... let's chill for a minute and see what transpires," Fisher said.
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