February 22, 2022

CPA and agents recommend voluntary isolation for cast and crew who test positive for COVID-19

A meeting was held earlier this month between the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the talent agents (represented by NAMA, SAPAMA & the PMA) and the crew agents (represented by ACASA) to discuss the Amended Level 1 legislation that was issued by government earlier this month.

The CPA confirmed that it will shortly be issuing an updated COVID-19 Protocol in line with the new regulations but that further discussion between producers and agents is required around the decision by government to do away with isolation for individuals who test positive for COVID but who do not display symptoms.

The majority of international clients do insist on testing and, where an individual tests positive (whether or not they are asymptomatic), their expectation is that that person will leave the set/job in the interests of the health and safety of the other people working on the production.

The only exception is where people who have recently had COVID may test positive for a few weeks thereafter. If a positive test is returned on set, proof of a recent positive infection (doctor’s certificate or lab result confirmation) should be presented.

It is advised that people who have recently had COVID fill in the Health Declaration accurately and ensure their documentation is readily available for verification on set. Production companies are advised to keep copies of this documentation on file.

It was agreed that where people (who have not recently had COVID) do test positive – whether they are asymptomatic or not – they should be sent home and be replaced on the job if the work period falls within the 7 days of isolation. Those who test positive are encouraged to isolate for the recommended 7 days and not put themselves forward for other work during this period as they may remain infectious.

Although this is not currently a legal requirement there was consensus that this would be the responsible thing to do under the circumstances.

Given the low numbers of people testing positive with COVID at this stage, we do not think this situation is likely to occur very often, said Bobby Amm, CPA Executive Officer.

It was proposed that people testing positive may not receive a cancellation fee but that agencies/ production companies are required to clarify this at casting stage (for talent) and on booking confirmation (for crew) as there may be crew/talent who may not agree to this.

Amm said: “All those present agreed that we must put all our efforts into securing as much work as possible in the near future – particularly in the service market which was very adversely affected by the Omicron wave. There is concern around key cast (particularly on longer jobs) and it was agreed that every effort must be made to safeguard cast in lead roles against COVID. This could be achieved through voluntary isolation, limiting cast to interacting only with key crew on set and strict adherence to the protocols at all times to minimize the risk of infection on set.

“The situation remains very fluid and we will reassess the protocols with the next level change. We are all hopeful that the end of the pandemic is in sight and that life may return to normal soon.”