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TV Production Halts in LA Amid COVID-19 Surge

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(Image credit: Blackmagic Design)

LOS ANGELES—Television production in Los Angeles has almost entirely been put on pause because of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases throughout California, a move that is supported by unions representing actors, producers and commercials

In a joint statement from SAG-AFTRA, the Joint Policy Committee and the Producers Guild of America, the groups recommend the temporary hold on in-person production of TV, film and commercials in Southern California as Los Angeles, and California in total, have seen record number of COVID-19 cases in recent days.

“Southern California hospitals are facing a crisis the likes of which we have never seen before,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Patients are dying in ambulances waiting for treatment because hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. This is not a safe environment for in-person production right now.”

In a separate message to its members, the PGA offered the following statement:

“We take the health and safety of our members, cast, crew and community very seriously. As a result of the COVID surge and lack of hospital capacity, we encourage everyone currently shooting in Southern CA to delay production until the county health officials indicate it's safe to resume. While we realize these are tough times and this is a tough decision, producers must and do serve as leaders both on our productions and in the community at large. Hopefully, we will be back to work soon.”

According to SAG-AFTRA, and reports from Variety, major studios and streamers were already on production hiatus in Southern California until at least mid-January. In addition, TV talk shows based in Los Angeles, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and CBS’ “The Late Late Show” have reverted to at-home production after previously being back in their studio spaces, according to Deadline.

CNBC reports that on Sunday, Jan. 3, more than 45,000 new cases were reported in California, with about 12,400 of them coming from Los Angeles County.

At the moment, the hope is that productions will only be shut down for one or two weeks, but no definitive return date has been set.