Governor Hochul’s COVID Policy and Broadcasters

The rapid expansion of omicron COVID cases in New York has prompted  Governor Hochul to issue several new directives.  There are a few key issues for broadcasters.

First, the mask or vaccination policy for employers has been extended from January 15th to February 1st.   Stations must either require all employees to be vaccinated or wear masks.

For stations selecting the mask option, the exemption for on-air talent was initially set to expire on December 26th.  Trying to talk through a mask while on the air made no sense.   As a result of our efforts, the exemption for on-air talent was extended for the duration of the new mask requirement.   Here is the regulation as explained in the Depart of Health Website:

“I operate ​TV or film production in New York State. If my ​entire production crew is not fully vaccinated by December 13th, do​es ​everyone have to wear masks while on-air or filming?

New York State’s new requirements apply to all indoor public places in all areas of New York State. The New York State Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, has established the following guidance for the production and broadcast of television​ and film, with regard to the Commissioner’s Determination:

Effective Monday, December 13, 2021, TV and film productions that do not implement a vaccination requirement for all individuals must ensure their operations are in accordance with the following: 

Individuals appearing on camera (e.g., anchors, actors, guests) may remove face coverings while filming is taking place, under the condition that they maintain a distance of at least six feet from all other individuals (e.g., crew members, production staff).

When such individuals are not conducting live filming, they must wear face masks at all times except when actively eating or drinking, or alone in an enclosed room.

All other individuals (e.g., crew members, production staff) must wear face masks at all times except when actively eating or drinking, or alone in an enclosed room.”

Second, following the CDC guidelines, New York has now reduced the quarantine date from 10 days to 5 days.  On December 24th, NY State adopted a 5- day isolation for hospital and critical workers.  There was a 10- day period for everyone else.  Broadcasters were not listed as critical workers, so it appeared that the 10- day period applied to us.

NY State DOH now follows the CDC and adopted a 5- day isolation period for everyone.  So this should apply to all broadcast employees.  Here is the order: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/01/nys_updated_isolation_quarantine_guidance_01042022.pdf

Note, however, that some county health departments may still enact a longer standard. Check with your local county health department.

THIS IS A FLUID SITUATION THAT MAY CHANGE.  We will report back once we receive more information.

For more information go to the NY Department of Health Website by clicking HERE.

To see a copy of the letter we sent to Governor Hochul click HERE.

 

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