Most workers on TV and film productions will no longer have to take a regular COVID test, under a new agreement between the studios and entertainment unions.
Productions have been operating under a lengthy “Return to Work” agreement since September 2020, which spells out detailed protocols for various “zones” of production.
The latest revision, announced on Friday, extends the agreement through April 1, while continuing to gradually relax the most stringent requirements.
Under the agreement, workers in Zone B and Zone C will no longer have to take a pre-employment COVID test. Zone B workers have also been required to take a weekly COVID test during production; that requirement will now be eliminated.
The relaxation in testing rules does not apply to Zone A — which includes actors and the crew who interact most closely with them. Those workers are still required to get a weekly test and a pre-employment test.
The revision also does not apply in areas of the country that are experiencing elevated COVID hospitalization rates, though most of the country is not in that category.
The unions — including DGA, SAG-AFTRA and IATSE — have been negotiating the Return to Work revisions with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in collective bargaining.
Last March, they agreed to relax masking rules on set, and also loosened the testing requirements for Zones C and D. The testing requirements have been a source of added cost for the studios, as they must pay workers to show up for a pre-employment test.