Los Angeles County is set to issue its guidelines on Thursday for the restart of film and TV production, allowing filming to resume as soon as Friday.
The county’s action follows a similar move by the California Department of Public Health, which said last week that production could return on Friday subject to approval from local authorities.
But despite the local sign-off, production is not expected to resume right away. Some productions are expected to get underway in July, and others will resume in August.
The county is also expected to issue guidelines for gyms, museums, zoos, pools, day camps, and professional sports arenas without audiences, which will also be allowed to reopen on Friday. The county is not yet allowing movie theaters to reopen, despite the state’s direction that theaters can reopen at 25% capacity. It is not clear when theaters in Los Angeles County will be able to reopen.
Before entertainment production can get underway, union representatives must still agree to job-by-job protocols. The industry issued its own white paper last week, setting out general guidelines for social distancing on film sets. The rules call for regular COVID-19 testing, temperature screenings, and symptom monitoring.
The industry plan also recommends the use of masks and other protective equipment, the deployment of hand-washing stations, and increased training. The extra safety measures are expected to slow the pace of production, and increase the cost by as much as 20%.
At her press conference on Wednesday, Barbara Ferrer, the director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, noted that the number of deaths from COVID-19 has declined in recent weeks. She also said that gatherings of any size will still be prohibited — except for churches and political protests.
“We are not out of the woods,” Ferrer said. “We are in the middle of the woods, and there is a lot of risk.”
FilmLA, the non-profit that handles film permits in the L.A. area, said in a statement that it will reactivate, and would likely be able to begin accepting applications on Monday.