Resources to Navigate COVID Safety for Your Child
This page is NOT intended to provide medical advice, since that is heavily dependent on your geography. Bizparentz does not engage in political discussions about the pandemic. We follow the science, and COVID-19 is a legitimate concern for professional actors of all ages. Our goal is for these resources to assist you in making the best decisions for your family as we all navigate this new world together.
Questions to Ask Before You Take the Job
There is very little in the way of laws for working sets in the age of COVID. None of this is negotiated in union contracts, although they have issued joint “guidelines” that have emerged as the industry standard, even for non-union productions. See below. Do not assume anything! Many of your questions will be answered if you are able to obtain a copy of the procedure manual for that set, but sometimes that is hard to get before you book the job. If you can’t get it, we advise asking the following questions:
- Are COVID vaccines required for this production? Does this apply to children as well? What about boosters? Does the age of your child matter (as if July 2022, vaccines are available for all children, even infants)? FYI, according to the industry-wide Return-to-Work agreement, employers CAN require vaccines and boosters as a condition of employment, and most do.
- What is the frequency of COVID testing for cast and crew? The current standard is one pre-employment, and then at least weekly for Zone A (principal actors and those close to them), and sometimes daily. Who is paying for it? They should arrange for testing and they should reimburse you for any costs. The union Joint Agreement requires them to pay you a stipend for your time as well (see agreement link below).
- Will your child be considered “Zone A”? These are a group of cast and crew (usually principal actors) who often need to go unmasked for scenes, and the rules may be different for them.
- What is the policy for masks and face shields for cast? What about hair/makeup, drivers, etc?
- Will you be organized into “pods” (where you only see and work with a small group of people)? Pods allow for production to continue, as only one pod would be quarantined if several people test positive.
- What are quarantine procedures for this set? For example, if you are exposed to someone who tests positive, but you are healthy, do you have quarantine at all? If you do have to quarantine, will you be paid/get per diem during that time? This could be important if you are on location!
- What is the location of the school facility and who will be in school with your child? Has the studio teacher been vaccinated (some could have medical or religious exemptions) and are they tested?
- Are they requiring any quarantine prior to the shoot days? Will that take place on location, or are they just requesting people stay home. If so, are you being paid for those days?
- If the shoot requires a driver, can you request the same driver from day to day (transportation drivers are in close quarters with many people throughout the day, so you should try to limit your exposure)?
Resources Specific to Kids
Safety Tips for SAG-AFTRA Young Performers by SAG-AFTRA
Before accepting a job, you should ask your agent to obtain the COVID manual from production. Every production has one that is very specific to their project. It will have some things you need to know in advance, such as the frequency of COVID testing, requirements for quarantine, etc.
****Updated Joint Agreement covering the entire industry (SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, Teamsters, and Craft) will be in effect until April 1, 2023 which requires mandatory vaccines for most actors and for studio teachers, but now relaxes mask requirements. Zone B & C were relaxed slightly in January 2023, but Zone A was not. They noted that more strict protocols may be implemented if there is a winter surge. This is the current industry standard. Return to Work Agreement dated July 19, 2021
On Set 24 Hour Safety Hotline for SAG-AFTRA productions: (844) SAFER SET / (844) 723-3773.
Production Safety Guidelines Issued jointly by the unions: SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and Teamsters The Safe Way Forward dated June 2020.
Jointly issued for BC: British Columbia Motion Picture COVID guidelines dated June 24, 2020.
ACTRA Toronto: COVID-19 Best Practices
Georgia: COVID-19 Georgia Best Practices for Film and Television
New York State Reopening Media Production Guidelines for Employers and Employees June 2020
CDC Considerations for Events and Gatherings (which a set is)
International Shoots — Worldwide COVID-19 Production Guidelines Links by Country (Independent Film and Television Alliance)
CDC: COVID Data Tracker (interactive maps of current outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world)
1/27/23 Agreement Ensures Continued Protection and Extends to April 1 2023 SAG-AFTRA Press Release
1/27/23 Studios, Unions Agree to Drop COVID Testing for Most Crew (but not actors) by Gene Maddaus for Variety
11/4/22 COVID Costs Continue to Plague Indie Sector (insurance) by Scott Roxborough for Hollywood Reporter
10/26/22 SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, IATSE, Teamsters and Hollywood Basic Crafts Announce Extension to COVID-19 Safety Agreement to January 31, 2023 SAG-AFTRA Press Release
5/6/22 Hollywood’s Unions Reach Agreement Relaxing COVID Protocols in Areas with Low Hospitalization (in effect until July 15, 2022) by David Robb for Deadline
2/16/22 Return to Work Protocols Extended To April 30, 2022 by Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA Press Release
1/24/22 Hollywood Extends COVID Protocols to February 13 by David Robb for Deadline
1/18/22 Film/TV Sets Under Strain: Is the COVID-19 Safety Status Quo Good Enough (Omicron) by Katie Kilkenny, Carolyn Giardina, Winston Cho for Hollywood Reporter
1/14/22 New Labor Battle Opens on Broadway as Omicron Closes Theater Shows (Mrs. Doubtfire closes by Ryan Waterman Aldana for CNBC
1/13/22 Supreme Court Blocks Nationwide Vaccine/Test Mandate for Companies of more than 100 by Ariane deVogue for CNN
1/12/22 List: All the Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows that Have Canceled Performances/Closed by New York Theatre Guide
10/29/21 COVID-19 Vaccines Get Emergency Authorization for Children Ages 5 – 11 Years Old by FDA News Release
8/4/21 Netflix Expands Vaccine Requirement to all Employees, Visitors (Netflix had previously required all cast in all US productions) by Brent Lang and Angelique Jackson for Variety
8/1/21 Disney Announces Vaccine Requirement for all Employees by Erin Brady for Collider
7/19/21 DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters Announce Agreement Adjustments in Effect Until 9/30/31 by SAG-AFTRA website
7/20/21 Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations an Option Under Newly Negotiated Deal by David Robb for Deadline
6/30/21 Return to Work Agreement Protocols Extended Indefinitely by David Robb for Deadline
2020-2021 An Oral History of the Broadway Shutdown (Series) by David Gordon at TheaterMania
12/7/20 COVID-19 Pandemic a Win and Loss for Hollywood’s Background Actors by Anousha Sakoui at LA Times
11/24/20 Disney, Film Studios Exempt from California COVID Restrictions by Rebecca Barton at Inside the Magic
11/20/20 How Blue Bloods and Other Shows Resumed Filming in Pandemic NYC by Sharon Otterman at New York Times
11/11/20 How Four Major Sectors of the Entertainment Industry are Handling COVID – 19 by Backstage Staff
10/26/20 Georgia Film Production Picks Up as COVID-19 Intermission Wraps by Ross Williams at NPR
10/8/20 New York Film Commissioner Issues Industry Guidance as City Shutters COVID Red Zones by Jill Goldsmith at Deadline
9/25/20 Zooming In: How the COVID-19 Epidemic Has Changed Hollywood’s Audition Process by Christi Carras at LA Times
9/4/20 We’re Using Actors’ Partners and Kids as Co-Stars and Camera Operators: Casting Director Has Worked on More than 65 Projects in COVID by Toronto LIfe
5/7/20 Child Actor Who Lost Jobs in COVID-19 Shutdown Can Collect Enhanced Unemployment Benefits by David Robb at Deadline