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How The Coronavirus Is Impacting Productions, Guilds, and All of Hollywood

March 23, 2020
3 min read time

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak spreads across the world, its impact is being felt in the global economy, by individuals and in business from the travel industry to Hollywood. Productions are being postponed, events are being canceled, and employees in the entertainment world are being told to ‘work from home’ since the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic last week.

Travel restrictions and health warnings continue to mount as more people fall ill internationally and in the United States. According to WHO, at the time of this printing, COVID-19 has infected more than 292,142 people in 169 countries, with 12,784 confirmed deaths. The death toll in the U.S. is currently at 400, with the number of confirmed cases nationwide at 33,404, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As the impacts of COVID-19 began to mount and states issued mandates in efforts to curtail the virus, dozens of blockbuster and indie productions temporarily shut down or pushed back release dates. According to Variety, Netflix shut down all film and TV production in the US and Canada; meanwhile, Warner Bros. has stopped production on over 70 series.

Some of the television shows impacted by the COVID-19 situation include ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Apple TV’s The Morning Show, NBC’s Law and Order SVU and the CW series Riverdale. According to Variety, Warner Bros. postponed production on Riverdale after it came to light that a ‘team member’ had been around a person diagnosed with Coronavirus.

Upcoming blockbuster movies that took a hit include MGM’s James Bond film, No Time to Die and Universal’s summer tentpole F9 that had their release dates pushed back. Disney shut down filming in Prague, Czech Republic, for the Marvel Studios series Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Disney+. After actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson announced they had tested positive for the Coronavirus, Variety stated that Warner Bros. shut down the Elvis Presley biopic production Hanks was working on. Most recently, actor Idris Elba announced he was diagnosed with Coronavirus. Although Elba displayed no symptoms, he was tested after discovering someone he had been in contact with was diagnosed with the virus.

The various Hollywood guilds also took swift action over the last week. The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced they’ve canceled all screenings, educational programs, and social events until further notice. They are making their ‘essential’ meetings available via video conference, so members have the option to participate remotely. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has canceled non-critical meetings as well, and limited or canceled future events. Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) shut down its library to writers.

The guilds, networks, studios and production companies alike are following the safety precautions listed by the CDC and WHO—both of which are recommending social distancing.  

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, released a statement that all events over 250 people would be canceled in California through at least the end of the month, prompting many local entertainment companies and productions to postpone events. Meanwhile, events nationwide are being canceled including the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, and the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

But as more closures occur during this time of American isolation, some industry workers were offered a glimmer of hope when it was announced that entertainment industry employees who lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus outbreak are eligible to receive expedited unemployment benefits. Deadline released information that people who lost their job due to contracting the virus or because they are caring for someone else who has, could be paid as much as $1,300 a week.

On its website, the Employment Development Department (EDD) said, “If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able, available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.”

For more information on the benefits and how to file a claim, visit our blog.

For a comprehensive list and timeline of how Hollywood is being impacted by COVID-19, visit this Indiewire story.

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