Hours before film crews were set to resume work Friday, Los Angeles County announced safety protocols for restarting film and television production during the coronavirus pandemic.
The regulations follow Wednesday's decision by the Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Health to allow crews to resume filming Friday. However, it's not likely these projects will get underway until July, August or even early fall.
The county's strict rules include health checks for all vendors and employees when they arrive on set, and social distancing. Employers are to provide all personal protective equipment and infection prevention equipment needed on the set.
Cloth face coverings are required by cast and crew, although the rules stipulate that only essential cast and crew should be allowed on set. Actors should wash their hands before scenes, and all props should be disinfected after they have been touched. Actors are encouraged to bring their own props, such as cellphones, to avoid sharing.
Prolonged physical contact, including during fight or sex scenes, are being discouraged and actors are being instructed to remain "as silent as possible to avoid spreading droplets through talking."
Scenes with crowds or a lot of background extras are also discouraged. The rules to allow for paid staff to serve as audience members for talk shows or sitcoms, but they must be placed 6 feet apart, and only 25% of the space can be filled.
For actors who cannot wear face coverings while performing, the rules suggest that they should remain 8 feet apart from others. Actors should apply their own makeup.
Craft services buffets are not permitted and all food services must be single-serving items.
These restrictions could impede certain productions from restarting, as many scenes in established scripts may not be able to be filmed as written.
Another obstacle is insurance. While productions that were already filming may be able to resume operations under their old insurance policies, new filming projects could have a hard time finding insurance that will cover production interruptions due to Covid-19, said Carolyn Hunt, an attorney with law firm Barnes & Thornburg's Los Angeles office.
"Many productions already had policies in place and they are rushing to get going," she said. "Some only have a one-year term."