On-Set Commercial Production Halted in So Cal as FEMA Declares L.A. County Most Dangerous Area in U.S.

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Several Hollywood unions urged members to shut down film production after authorities deemed Southern California to be the “most dangerous area in the country” due to the coronavirus.

SAG-AFTRA, the Producers Guild, and a group of TV and film advertisers have joined together to urge film production to be immediately shutdown over the coronavirus, Deadline reported. The Joint Policy Committee of the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies joined the unions in urging a halt to productions.

“Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “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.”

David White, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, added:

Even putting aside the risk of acquiring Covid on set – 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.

“It is too hard to say right now when the situation may improve, but we are monitoring closely and will make sure that our members have the information they need to make the best decisions they can to protect themselves and our community,” White added.

PGA presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher also insisted that health concerns necessitate the shutdown of production, adding, “Hopefully, we will be back to work soon.” And Stacy Marcus, chief negotiator for the Joint Policy Committee, exclaimed that the risk is “simply too great… to performers, crew, and industry personnel to continue production.”

This avalanche of demands came on the heels of determinations by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which sent recommendations to the film industry to shut down production in the face of rising coronavirus numbers.

“Although music, TV, and film productions are allowed to operate,” the health department said late last month, “we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in Covid cases. Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible.”

Finally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has similarly declared Southern California to be “ground zero” for the virus and called the region the most dangerous area in the U.S.A., according to Deadline.

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