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SAG-AFTRA, the Producers Guild of America and the Joint Policy Committee have jointly agreed to lift their recommendation to pause commercial and independent production in Southern California, effective Monday, Feb. 1. The three organizations, which together represent thousands of actors, producers, commercial advertisers and ad agencies, had first recommended a temporary production halt on Jan. 3.
“While commercial and independent production may return to Southern California at this time, the parties maintain that film and television productions must abide by the industry-issued COVID-safety protocols and will continue to monitor and consider orders or recommendations issued by the Public Health Department,” reads the joint statement. “Additionally, SAG-AFTRA and the JPC will move forward with reviewing commercial productions to help ensure that safety on set is maintained for members and industry personnel.”
The move was made in tandem with the expiration of the pause recommendation by the Los Angeles County of Public Health, said the organizations.
At the start of the month, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris had urged for a halt to production, citing the capacity crises Southern California hospitals were facing. “Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed,” read the Jan. 3 statement. “This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now.”
At the time, in Los Angeles alone, more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 were being reported per day through the department of public health, with nearly one in five tests coming back positive. Most major studios, from Netflix to Disney to Warner Bros, had extended the holiday production hiatus to mid-January or so amid the coronavirus surge.
On Wednesday, L.A. County reported 6,917 new COVID-19 cases with a seven-day daily average testing positivity rate of 12.8%. The State of California lifted all regional stay-at-home orders, including L.A., on Monday.
Variety's Elaine Low contributed to this post.