Walt Disney told a series of his TV shows on Friday that he would no longer require cast and crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as hospitalizations decline.
Productions, including the first responder drama ‘9-1-1,’ will no longer require workers in front of and behind the camera in the highest-risk areas of their sets to be vaccinated, people with knowledge of the matter have said. who were not allowed to speak publicly.
The use of vaccination mandates has been accepted by unions and producers as part of the agreement said back to work last year. A dozen shows are affected and other protocols, including masking and testing, will remain in place, a person familiar with the matter said. Disney may still require vaccines for certain productions.
Disney declined to comment. SAG-AFTRA said in a statement that producers have always had the option of whether or not to impose the mandate.
The Burbank-based entertainment giant is one of the first major studios to remove vaccine mandates from so many shows, a sign of the diminishing risk of virus outbreaks that have led to costly production shutdowns. . Some other studios are also no longer mandating vaccinations for cast and crew.
Vaccination mandates have been controversial in parts of Hollywood. Some actors strongly opposed mandatory vaccinations, triggering a break within SAG-AFTRA.
Union president Fran Drescher celebrated the decision on social media on Saturday.
“As a nation, we have to be very careful that fear doesn’t turn into fascism,” Drescher said in a video posted on Twitter Saturday. “When cards have to be presented to identify if you are included or excluded, we are at a tipping point of an America that I no longer recognize. I must commend Disney for taking the position of no longer imposing vaccines on their decorations.
Drescher, who said she is vaccinated, has lobbied against the use of vaccination mandates, even though the board of the union she leads has backed its use. The union previously estimated that around 25% of production required vaccinations.
The back-to-work agreement allowed producers to require workers in high-risk areas, typically where actors are maskless in front of the cameras, to be up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“All companies signatories to the back-to-work agreement have always had the power to choose to implement – or not to implement – vaccination mandates on productions at their discretion, as long as they are compliant. to the requirements of the agreement,” SAG-AFTRA spokeswoman Pam Greenwalt said in a statement.
The back-to-work agreement was extended last month until January 2023. The agreement includes sick pay as well as requirements for testing, vaccinations and masking in movies and TV shows.