American Horror Story: Double Feature has temporarily shut down production due to a positive COVID-19 case and potential exposure to the illness. The positive case was detected in what's been termed "Zone A" in COVID-production protocol, which means "any perimeter within which activity occurs without physical distancing or the use of PPE". The case originated from one of the American Horror Stories actors whose identity details have not been disclosed.
The Ryan Murphy horror series was originally scheduled to premiere on FX in late 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. They finally were able to start filming in December, and have not had any previous shutdowns. The pause on production will likely last until at least the end of the week. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health this past week reinstated the indoor mask mandate 'regardless of vaccination status' as cases rise around the country.
On Monday, a new agreement between the studios and the union stated that producers can mandate that those in 'Zone A' must be vaccinated. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and four unions, DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters have reached an agreement on adjustments to the pact that will be in effect through September 30. The new pact allows the studios to make it mandatory for all those on a given set to be vaccinated, to decrease the rate of regular COVID testing and to loosen mask mandates in outdoor settings.
"The modifications center on workplace practices for fully vaccinated cast and crew, including changes to outdoor masking requirements and updated mealtime protocols. Producers will also have the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis. Additional changes, such as adjustments to testing frequency, are included for certain areas in the United States and Canada where COVID-19 incidence is, and remains, very low."
Loa Angeles-based studios had been looking forward to a safer and more relaxed set of protocols until the post-July 4 surge prompted LA County to reinstate its indoor mask mandate. In the U.K., production on Season 2 of Netflix's Bridgerton, Netflix's feature-length musical adaptation of Matilda, and HBO's Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon were also halted in recent days because of positive COVID tests. We can probably expect more stops in production which in turn means release dates for some tv and films being pushed back.
"On too many productions, COVID supervisors are not listened to and their advice is ignored," says veteran Brit producer Jonathan Weissler of Balagan Production. "Quite often these supervisors are relatively junior production people who now have this job title but no actual authority. When a director or DoP refuses to wear masks, what message does that pass on to the rest of the crew?"
Discussing COVID delays now being written into insurance policies Enders Analysis COO and director of TV Gill Hind says, "If they don't stick to (the guidelines), they might lose the compensation they get when production is delayed, and they are sort of incentivized to stick to those. If you are not actually sticking to the guidelines, you probably lose that compensation." I think all we can do is expect the unexpected. This news comes from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.