World News – AU – Hollywood halts work after COVID-19 cases rise in Los Angeles

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Most Hollywood productions were suspended until at least mid-January, the film industry union said, as Covid-19 cases skyrocketed to record levels in Los Angeles. SAG-AFTRA said in a statement to members late Tuesday that the majority of entertainment productions « will pause until the second or third week of January, if not later ». The news comes after Los Angeles county health officials on Christmas Eve urged filmmakers « to consider halting work for a few weeks amid this catastrophic surge in COVID cases. ». « Los Angeles – the most populous county in the country – has emerged as the youngest US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing 7 for the first time on Monday. 000 hospital stays in Covid completed.

The vast district with 10 million inhabitants has almost 750. 000 cases suffered, including just under 10. 000 deaths. Southern California’s « stay-at-home » order was extended indefinitely Tuesday, overwhelming several hospitals and forcing them to turn away ambulances.

SAG-AFTRA has put months of effort into restarting Hollywood since it first closed in March and signed a deal with top studios in September to improve on-set coronavirus safeguards for its actors, including testing. Even so, Los Angeles entertainment productions were at less than half their usual level of activity in October before declining again when Covid cases began to rise.

Film LA, the organization that grants permits for productions in Los Angeles, said film applications have recently dropped to « lows we haven’t seen since the weeks after production restarted last summer. « Aside from a few dozen indie films, very few feature films were produced in the Los Angeles area this year. Most of the shooting was limited to commercials and music videos.

In contrast, high profile productions have resumed overseas, including Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster Mission Impossible 7 in the UK and Italy, and television series such as Supergirl and Batwoman in Canada. The lack of coronavirus insurance continues to hamper production in hopes of a fresh start. SAG-AFTRA said it would « ensure appropriate precautions for the vacation break including additional time for testing before resuming production ». « 

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed. )

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SAG-AFTRA, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Coronavirus, January, Gabrielle Carteris

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