Los Angeles Film-TV Production Sees Restrictions, Slowdowns Amid Coronavirus

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Film and television production in the Los Angeles area is facing restrictions due to impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the FilmL.A. permitting agency reported on Thursday.

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health cautions that the cancellation or modification of public events may be necessary to counter a significant community spread of COVID-19,” FilmL.A. said. “By order of local authorities, a variety of temporary limitations and restrictions on film production activity are now in effect in parts of Los Angeles.”

The agency said Thursday that filming activity continues to occur on area streets and stages, subject to temporary limits imposed by local authorities.

Following an announcement by Los Angels Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday, the City of Los Angeles has enacted temporary limits on public gatherings to protect the public and slow the spread of the virus.

Los Angeles City Hall is temporarily closed to all filming and scouting requests and filming involving city-owned property is temporarily restricted to productions with a combined cast and crew of 250 persons or less.

The Los Angeles Community College District has suspended all scouting and filming activities for the remainder of March, 2020. The Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended all outside use of its facilities, including all on-location filming and film vehicle parking. All previously issued permissions for filming and film parking are rescinded.

Below-the-line workers have been seeing less work in recent days, according to Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of The Hollywood Teamsters Local 399, which represents drivers, location scouts and casting directors.

“We have canceled all union events through April 10 out of an abundance of caution,” Dayan added. “We’d rather be safe than sorry.”

The Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents Hollywood’s craft guilds, said its International Disaster Response Committee is closely following the most up-to-date guidance as provided by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control (U.S.) and the Public Health Agency of Canada. It also said the IATSE National Benefit Funds has waived all fees for COVID-19 testing for all participants enrolled in its health plans.

Salvador Perez, president of the Costume Designers Guild, which operates as IATSE Local 705, told members on Thursday, “IATSE is working with employers across all sectors of the Entertainment Industry on policies that will help prevent infections in our workplaces. With the variety of crafts the IATSE represent and the unique challenges that come with each in this situation, the IATSE are collaborating with the Local Unions to produce and distribute craft-specific workplace guidelines.”

The email went on to say, “The California Development Department (EDD) has announced if you cannot work because you have been exposed to COVID-19, they will provide short term benefit payments. Paid Family Leave can be used if you find you are taking care of a family member who has been quarantined.”

“Guild workers who do get sick are entitled to benefits by filing Disability Insurance where they will be entitled to short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.”

Kees Van Oostrum, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, announced Thursday that the ASC has decided to temporarily suspend all public events, talks and exhibits in the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood,

“We will continue to hold board meetings and membership meetings, which are crucial to the running of the ASC,” he added. “However, we will encourage members to make use of the video-conference or phone call-in facilities for these meetings. Other committee meetings should be held on a remote basis if possible. As we go forward, we will look to increase the amount of work our staff can do remotely, without coming into the office.”

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but the emerging consensus from the CDC and medical experts is to limit person-to-person transmission of the virus to stop the pandemic,” Van Oostrum added. “Please note that this is a proactive measure. There is no identified case of coronavirus or known exposure within the ASC membership or staff. We understand this is all very disruptive, but we are sure we will get through this difficult period and return to business as normal.”