For the second time in a week, the Hulu comedy “Woke” — currently filming its second season in Atlanta — has suspended production because of another positive COVID-19 test.
As with the first shutdown, which occurred on Tuesday, the person who tested positive was in Zone A, which in COVID-protocol language describes those present on set when the performers aren’t wearing masks.
According to a source close to the situation, the show resumed filming on Wednesday, but on Thursday, the second positive test forced production to stop once more. It’s not immediately clear when the show will begin filming again, according to the source.
Another person from the set of “Woke” said, “The COVID protocols were less than stellar — and porous.” The person said there were many days when they wouldn’t have their temperature checked, and that the production schedule hasn’t been adhering to the limited hours set for COVID production. They said they worked several 14-hour-plus days last week.
“Woke,” which stars Lamorne Morris (“New Girl”) as a Black cartoonist, began filming its second season last month. The show — a co-production of Sony and Disney — premiered on Hulu last September, and was renewed in November.
In the first production pause, Variety learned that unvaccinated members of the “Woke” crew had come in close contact with the person who had tested positive, and would have to self-isolate for two weeks — which required a few of them to be replaced. On a set, “close contact” is defined as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes, even if both people are wearing PPE. Those in Zone A who are vaccinated didn’t have to quarantine.
Representatives from Sony, Disney and Hulu did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
As the even-more-transmissible Delta variant has spread in the United States and England, COVID shutdowns have once again become common — especially, perhaps, as vaccines have caused people to relax and not be as careful as they once were. Netflix’s sensation “Bridgerton” and HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” the “Game of Thrones” prequel, both had to suspend production in the U.K. And on Tuesday, Variety reported that “American Horror Story” has paused production for the rest of the week, also because of a positive COVID case in Zone A. “American Horror Story” began filming in December in Los Angeles, and even when Southern California was the epicenter of the pandemic, it had no shutdowns.
On Wednesday, Deadline reported that HBO will pause production on Season 4 of “Westworld” for two days next week.
The wave of production stoppages will surely increase pressure on the studios to mandate vaccinations for production work. The new agreement about COVID protocols between the studios and the guilds went into effect on Monday. They contain the option for producers to require vaccinations for those in Zone A, which would affect actors, directors, directors of photography and those whose work requires them to be on set (such as hair and makeup people, and department heads).
According to an explainer on the Directors Guild website for its members, “On a production-by-production basis, a producer may implement a policy providing that Zone A employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment,” it reads. “To provide currently-unvaccinated Zone A employees with sufficient time to get vaccinated, the Agreement gives employees one week to schedule a vaccination appointment and receive their first vaccination shot, and six weeks from that date to get their second shot (if required) and complete the required waiting period.”
The DGA explainer goes on to say that identifying and verifying vaccination status will also be necessary — an indication of the direction Hollywood productions, as well as workplaces and other private spaces in the U.S., are heading.
“Producers must keep such documentation secure and available only to those with a need to know,” it reads. “Employees who do not provide verification of their vaccination status will be treated as not fully vaccinated.”
This story has been updated. Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.