California entertainment workers exempted from Gov. Newsom's stay at home orders

Who knew that the entertainment industry workers are essential workers? No one knew that because it is an absurd stretch of the definition of an essential worker. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom is issuing a new stay-at-home order to California residents and exempting entertainment industry workers from it.

The order issued by Newsom on Thursday is described as a “limited stay-at-home order”. It establishes a curfew between the hours of 10 PM and 5 AM. All non-essential work, movement, and gatherings must stop during those hours, except for the exempted categories of those deemed essential in the state’s purple tier, essentially every county in Southern California and 94% of the state’s population. The entertainment industry is located in Southern California and the governor is allowing a nice little carve-out for Hollywood. Though entertainment workers were not exempted in Newsom’s original stay-at-home orders last March, the industry is listed in the latest order under the category of essential workers. The original order still applies with some revisions, like this one.

So, all those grave shift workers in other industries are out of luck and out of work for the next month – the curfew is issued for one month – while entertainment workers continue to work.

The governor’s original Stay-at-Home order (read it here) from March includes the following passage, which still applies:

In accordance with this order, the State Public Health Officer has designated the following list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers to help state, local, tribal, and industry partners as they work to protect communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

On that list of exemptions, under “Industrial, Commercial, Residential, and Sheltering Facilities and Services,” there is essential worker designation 15 which reads, “Workers supporting the entertainment industries, studios, and other related establishments, provided they follow covid-19 public health guidance around physical distancing.”

The guidance does indicate this exemption only applies if remote work is not possible, but with film and TV production it is often not.

Clearly, remote work is not possible for most of the industry. We’ve seen evidence of that since the beginning of the pandemic when non-essential businesses were forced to close and Hollywood followed those orders. Television shows and movie productions were shut down, leaving a void in new entertainment coming out for consumers. Did you notice the surge in bringing back classic game shows on television over the summer months? There wasn’t anything else available to the networks for broadcasting besides reruns of episodes of shows shown in the fall television season. Talk shows can operate remotely but not regular television programming. Movies can’t be filmed using Zoom.

It’s hard to not be cynical here and assume that the governor was pressured by the industry to allow them to continue to operate. Lots of television shows and some movie productions have resumed in recent weeks. You may be noticing some of your favorite shows beginning to offer a new season of episodes over the last week or two. The industry is slowly getting back to work. The entertainment industry unions and guilds contribute to Democrats, as do the majority of politically active actors, directors, producers, writers, and so on. He is probably feeling the heat to keep productions open during the night and early morning hours, too.

California is one of several states taking stricter measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as new spikes in cases emerge. Apparently, though, the governor thinks the virus doesn’t affect some segments of California’s population as it does others. Newsom is in hot water for showing his own arrogance by attending social gatherings like a birthday dinner at French Laundry. The guests, twelve in all including Newsom, didn’t bother to wear masks or social distance. The group included doctors. Newsom, you may remember, recently tried to micro-manage diners by telling them to wear a mask even while eating – taking it down only for bites of food and putting it back on their faces between bites. The rules are for the little people, you know, and apparently Hollywood gets a pass, too.

“We know from our stay at home order this spring, which flattened the curve in California, that reducing the movement and mixing of individuals dramatically decreases COVID-19 spread, hospitalizations, and deaths,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly added in the statement.

Along with the limited stay-at-home order, California has also issued a travel advisory asking people to avoid nonessential out-of-state travel and to quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country. Masks are required to be worn by individuals whenever they are outside their homes, with limited exceptions.

It looks as though we all aren’t in this thing together. Perhaps someone should hand a copy of his own rules to him for a little leisurely reading.