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July 21st, 2020
New York City Reopens for Film and Television Production
On July 17, 2020 NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, with the City entering Phase Four of Reopening on Monday July 20th, 2020, film and television production in the City can restart again in earnest. While theaters remain shuttered, production activities on set, on location, or at any production or recording facilities in the City may resume – subject to two requirements: 1) producers must prepare a NY Forward Safety Plan for preventing the spread of COVID-19; and 2) Producers must comply with the Media Production Guidelines for Employers and Employees promulgated by New York State in late June. Here’s a summary of the key requirements:
- Employees and crew personnel must be screened and tested prior to participating in production activities; complete regular daily health screenings following the start of production activities; and be tested for COVID every week that they are in production.
- Employees, cast, and crew will need to be trained on how to adequately don, doff, clean (as applicable), and discard personal protective equipment, including but not limited to face coverings.
- Productions must facilitate and maintain proper hygiene support throughout the production location, including washing stations, sanitizer dispensers, conducting regular and thorough cleanings of equipment and production spaces.
- Productions must ensure all props, costumes, and set materials are cleaned and disinfected between each use and stored in sealed containers between uses.
- Productions must prohibit shared food and beverages among employees, cast, and crew (e.g. self-serve meals and beverages) and reserve adequate space for employees, cast, and crew to observe social distancing while eating meals.
- Productions must ensure that, for indoor facilities or locations, occupancy must be limited to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy for a particular area as set by the certificate of occupancy (this includes employees, cast, and crew members). For outdoor production activities, Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment noted [in an interview with Deadline.com] that limits on personnel may end up being dependent on the need for and occurrence of open streets and outdoor dining.
- Production teams must ensure that a distance of at least six feet is maintained between all employees, cast, and crew in all locations; provided that in certain instances where individuals must be within six feet of one another (e.g., wardrobe, hair, makeup, sound, filming, performing), the production must identify those functions and implement protocols for mitigating risk to the best degree possible.
- All employees, cast, and crew must wear acceptable face coverings at all times within the media production facility or location (with the exception of individuals under the age of two and those medically unable to tolerate such a face covering); and provided that performers may temporarily remove face coverings during performances/rehearsals, or if such coverings will interfere with necessary activities (i.e., hair, makeup, wardrobe).
- In addition to following all Department of Health guidelines, Productions remain prohibited from having live audiences unless the audiences consist only of paid employees, cast, and crew, and even then, capacity of a venue must be the lower of (i) 100 persons; or (ii) 25% of the total audience capacity. Live audiences must also maintain social distance of at least six feet in all directions.
- Productions must limit the number of employees, cast, and crew to only essential individuals for both indoor and outdoor media production activities, and ensure that all social distancing guidelines are rigorously enforced. Any non-essential personnel and visitors (e.g., friends, family, guests, visitors) must be prohibited from entering the media production facility or location.
As of today there have been no additional statements on the proposed Phase Four restart of production in New York from any of the guilds or unions, however, it is safe to assume that the COVID-19 safety guidelines collectively proposed by the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters Union on June 12, 2020 will be expected to stand as the baseline of safety for the members of those organizations in today’s pre-vaccine world.
If you have any questions about how to safely reopen your entertainment production, or about any other entertainment law matters, please contact Lisa E. Davis at 212 826 5530 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Ben Moskowitz at 212 705 4856, email@example.com, Viviane Scott at 212 705 4817 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Entertainment or Employment Litigation Groups.
Other Entertainment Law Alerts
Los Angeles County Authorizes Television, Film, and Music Production Resume on June 12, 2020 With Strict Regulations
On June 11, Los Angeles County approved a staged resumption of film and TV production beginning June 12, 2020. However, it comes with extensive regulations. Read more.
June 16 2020
California Will Permit Television, Film, and Music Production to Resume on June 12, 2020 Subject to County Public Health Approvals
As several production-heavy states announce the easing of stay-at-home orders and restrictions, the question of how to restart entertainment production in a safe manner has become paramount. Read more.
June 9 2020
Federal Bill Would Increase Availability of Key Insurance Coverages
As states begin to gradually reopen and networks held virtual upfronts, the entertainment industry is contemplating both when and how production will be able to resume. Studio executives, union representatives and epidemiologists are meeting to develop new protocols that will permit production to restart safely. Read more.
June 1 2020