Posts

1 March 2022

Last week New Zealand entered Phase 3 of the Omicron outbreak. We now have thousands of new daily cases and this is expected to increase over the next month or so.

The intention of Phase 3 is to ease the pressure on Government testing and contact tracing. The focus will be on protecting the vulnerable while ensuring the health system and key supply chains remain operational and that our economy keeps moving.

The most common symptoms for the Omicron variant are a sore or scratchy throat, and a runny nose. If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you should continue to get tested and stay at home until you have received a negative test result.

With changes happening daily ScreenSafe will cover off the major changes as they come to hand but recommends all productions to keep informed. For regular updates please check: https://covid19.govt.nz/

The key changes are:

 

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will become the primary form of testing

You will no longer require a PCR test to confirm your COVID-19 RAT diagnosis. RATs will now be available from GPs, participating pharmacies and community collection sites (https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/), and they are now freely available to buy online.

Only confirmed cases and their household contacts are required to isolate

People who test positive for COVID-19 and those in their households need to isolate for 10 days, but can now self-release after day 10, provided any testing and symptoms requirements are met. Household contacts must test on days 3 and 10.

If you are told you are a close contact, you do not need to isolate, but should monitor for any symptoms. Please get a test if symptoms develop.

The relaxation of close contact rules are a huge and important change for our industry as it means you do not need to shut down a whole production if any cast or crew test positive.

Please note – continued adherence to ScreenSafe Red Level guidelines is highly recommended for the safety of cast and crew and to avoid unnecessary business disruption:

  • Mask wearing and good hygiene protocols is crucial
  • Practice strict adherence to working bubbles
  • Practice good physical distancing
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid ride-sharing

A new self-investigation tool will be launched, with contact tracing teams to focus on high-risk exposure events and locations

Positive cases will need to do their own work in regards to contact tracing. A self-investigation tool is in the works, but is not live as of today.

Vaccinated Kiwis arriving from Australia and the rest of the world will no longer need to self-isolate

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 2 March 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealanders arriving from Australia will no longer need to self-isolate.

From 11.59pm on Friday 4 March this will be extended to include fully vaccinated New Zealand travellers from the rest of the world.

* More details information will be released in the next few days.

Sincerely,
The ScreenSafe COVID-19 Group, Email: info@screensafe.co.nz

Thank you to NZFC and NZOA for their funding support of these COVID-19 reviews.

Friday 4th February 2022

ScreenSafe has updated the COVID-19 Protocols to align with some minor Government updates and with updated information in regards to the Omicron variant.

As we’ve all heard, the Omicron variant is highly infectious and it is now in our community, both on the North and South Island. Even with New Zealand’s very high vaccination rates, it is likely that infection rates can reach the thousands per day over the next few weeks/months.

The Government recommends a booster shot as an additional layer of protection against the Omicron variant.

The changes to the Protocols are as follows:

Omicron Update (in the “About COVID-19” Section)

General Ministry of Health information about the Omicron variant.

Update on Mask/Face Covering Requirements (in the “About COVID-19” Section)

A face covering will need to be an actual mask and attached to the head by loops around the ears or head. This means scarves, bandannas, or t-shirts should not be used.

Stricter mask requirements are now in place for essential services. While that does not apply to our industry, we urge you to consider MoH information about what masks will provide you and your workplace with the best protection: Link here.

Managing an Omicron Outbreak (New section)

This new section provides information about the 3 phases of the impending Omicron outbreak, including applicable isolation timeframes for cases and close contacts. It also provides some basic steps for dealing with an outbreak in your workplace.

Vaccination Update (in the “Vaccinations & Vaccination Passports” Section)

Booster update – you can now get this only 3 months after your second dose (previously it was 6, then 4 months).

Update about the Child Vaccine (for kids 5-11) which is now available.

Rapid Antigen Testing Update (in the “Testing” Section)

Updated with the latest information about RAT testing.

Note that this continues to be an evolving topic as supplies of RAT are currently limited. Although we are hopeful this will become a vital tool for all productions.

Surveillance Testing (in the “Testing” Section)

As previously confirmed by MoH – Community Testing Centres CANNOT be used for production surveillance testing. These sites are only for symptomatic people and close contacts. Productions must bear the cost of surveillance testing themselves and should not ask cast or crew to go to Community Testing Centres. Link here.

ADR/Booth Work Update (in the “Traffic Light Guides”)

We have added in a quick note about the need for proper guidelines in regards to sanitation, ventilation and physical distancing for any ADR or other booth work in post-production.

The 5-Step Border Reopening 27th February (in the “Immigration and International Travel Restrictions” Section)

Updated in regards to today’s announcements about the 5-stage re-opening of our international borders.

Links to updated information:

ScreenSafe COVID-19 H&S Protocols – Omicron Update

Vaccination Passport Traffic Light Guidelines and Non-Vaccination Passport Guidelines

ScreenSafe would like to thank the NZ Film Commission and NZ on Air for funding this initiative.

Full release here.

Sincerely,
The ScreenSafe COVID-19 Group
Email: info@screensafe.co.nz

View from the Top banner

I do hope everyone had a restful and restorative Christmas and New Year’s break, because here we go again.

Like 2021, a false sense of security across the summer has been ended this year, quicker than last, with COVID bashing down the doors once more.Thankfully, production has been rolling in Auckland since the move to Orange and a number of shows are in production or have completed. We are all wiser about how to operate in a COVID environment, but the new strain means new adjustments for all.

The Government gave up on the elimination strategy last year and we are now faced with having to live with COVID in our personal and work lives.

At the Guild, we have conducted our risk assessment for the office and our events, which were severely impacted in 2021. A number of our workshops require close proximity between actors, whether it be Rehearsal & Performance, Directing In the Intimate Zone, or Rehearsal Dynamics. Others we are able to conduct in an online environment—not ideal but possible—like the Directors Masterclass, Director’s Toolkit, Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator, and the Table Reads that we do with NZWG.

We have reviewed all of these and our other one-off events and will be rolling out our Omicron-adjusted workshop and event programme from February. Keep an eye out for a new series of workshops that will look in detail at our template film agreements for directors (under development) and editors (already available), so that you can better understand and negotiate your contracts.

In the meantime, we all need to prepare for home isolation with the Omicron variant of COVID. If you haven’t already done this, you’ll find the Government’s information page on how to prepare your household for COVID here and the updated guidelines for life at Red here.

For those contemplating production, ScreenSafe continues to provide a comprehensive set of guidelines and advice for productions here. Continue to check regularly as this will update with Omicron and Rapid Antigen Testing.

We could well see for NZ productions the introduction of strict Zones on set with Omicron. If you want to understand what shape this could take, see the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters document on COVID protocols on set, including how their Zone system works.

As always, the guilds are always contactable and ready to assist in these trying times. If you are having an issue, need some advice or assistance, or require some help, as members you can reach out to me or the ED of the organisation that represents you. So don’t hesitate.

Although we continue to be challenged by the pandemic we can still count our blessings that Aotearoa New Zealand hasn’t yet been as severely impacted as many other countries. It’s still summer. And with the acceptance that COVID is here to stay, we have more freedoms than in past systems used to control the spread.

Stay safe, stay well, and enjoy yourself wherever and whenever you can—it’s good for your wellbeing.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director