RIDGECREST, Calif. — (PRNewswire) - After several months of monitoring the situation with COVID-19 in the region and across the state, the Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission is excited to welcome filmmakers back to the region. The California Department of Public Health released a statement allowing for areas of the state to reopen to music, television, and film production starting June 12, 2020 at the earliest. After communicating with Kern County public health officials, the office has been approved to join the first wave of re-openings.
The ability to reopen is based on approval following review of local data, including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge. Kern County's cases of COVID-19 have remained relatively low compared to other regions across the state, and businesses began reopening earlier than many surrounding counties. Early response and lower population density in the county kept numbers from spiking as they had in more urban areas.
The film commission will abide by all state, county, and city regulations and continue to monitor the rapidly changing climate. In recent weeks, the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force put together a set of recommendations that were presented in both New York and Los Angeles. The 22-page "Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic" was sent directly to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The task force included input from Walt Disney Pictures, Netflix, Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Apple Studios, CBS Studios Inc., Amazon, Columbia Pictures, Disney Television Studios, Fox Corporation, HBO, HBO Max, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The unions and guilds, including the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters were also involved in developing the recommendations.
Areas of concern in the document include infection control, protecting and supporting cast and crew health and safety, physical distancing, training and education, and unique production-specific concerns. Details of the document cover everything from personal hygiene to ways of filming that require less contact between actors. The document recommends that remote locations should be prioritized in order to reduce contact with the general public, allowing for sufficient space to physically distance when not working on planned production activities. Meetings will be coordinated over video chat, and in person meetings will be kept at a distance when necessary.
Productions are expected to adapt to these recommendations with new emphasis on safety coordinators for the teams involved. As always, the RRFC is dedicated to keeping the locations and people of the region safe while welcoming the support for local businesses and unique opportunities that filmmakers bring to the area.