After months of shutdowns crippled the entertainment industry, governor Gavin Newsom has announced guidelines to resume music, film, and television production in California. Via The Hollywood Reporter, work can begin again on June 12th, as the Golden State transitions into Stage 3 of its coronavirus recovery plan.
Stage 3 allows for the re-opening of some “higher-risk workplaces.” Concerts won’t return until stage 4 (and even then, it might not be a typical concert experience) but most recording studios should be back after next Friday. Additionally, many of the film and television productions that paused during the pandemic seem likely to resume. However, the guidelines are purposefully vague, and several questions remain.
In a statement, the California Department of Public Health said that the restart would be “subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations.” So for example, filming in Los Angeles would be at the discretion of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, depending on “local epidemiological data.” These health officials are unelected, with an authority that exists in a legal gray area, and those two facts have previously caused tension.
Earlier in the pandemic, state guidelines suggested that Elon Musk could open his Bay-area Tesla factory. However, Alameda County health officers blocked him from doing so until he submitted a safety plan. Musk opened the factory anyway, and the dispute was resolved two days later after the Tesla CEO agreed to new safety precautions.
At this time, it’s unclear how the LA Department of Public Health will seek to oversee the local entertainment industry. But some conflict seems likely. The guidelines don’t say whether it’s permissible to film a crowd scene, or other tricky questions like combat, kissing, a television ‘family’ sitting in a crowded car, etc. We may not have a clear idea of what Stage 3 looks like for a couple of weeks.
Other states have been more aggressive about opening up, and a dance music festival in Kansas has received permission to proceed.