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Disney ends vaccine mandates on most US productions: Report

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Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/FilmMagic

COVID-19 vaccine mandates have now been dropped by most Disney productions in the United States, reports say.

Though Disney and Netflix adopted the vaccine mandates in 2021 and incorporated them into the so-called Return to Work Agreement, signed by various unions and production companies in September 2020, Disney has now decided to relax those mandates, especially on television shows produced in the U.S.

According to Deadline, "Grey's Anatomy," "Station 19," "9-1-1," and "9-1-1: Lone Star" have already agreed to drop the vaccine mandates, which were heretofore strictly enforced for workers in Zone A. Zone A includes cast members, who do not wear masks, and all crew members who interact with the cast directly.

Longtime Hollywood star and SAG-AFTRA union president Fran Drescher, best known for her role on the '90s sitcom "The Nanny," celebrated Disney's decision to end the mandates.

"@Disney pulls the plug on vaccine mandates! Way to go Mickey!!!" Drescher tweeted on Saturday.

"I have been outspoken, publicly, as well as with my board and executive director, in defense of those members who are unvaccinated for a myriad of reasons and as a consequence has lost their livelihood, their representation, and their health benefits," Drescher stated in the TikTok video she tweeted.

"We as a nation must be very careful that fear does not turn into fascism," Drescher added. “When cards must be presented to identify whether you are included or excluded, we stand at a tipping point of an America I no longer recognize. I must applaud Disney for taking the position not to vaccine mandate their sets any longer."

SAG-AFTRA also stated that producers have always had the option to impose mandates, hinting that in dropping the mandate, Disney is not so much taking a new stand as exercising the judgment, or "authority," it had always been afforded.

"All companies signatory to the Return to Work Agreement have always had the authority to choose to implement — or not implement —vaccine mandates on productions at their discretion, so long as they are in compliance with the requirements of the agreement," said SAG-AFTRA spokesperson Pamela Greenwalt.

Disney productions "The Rookie" and "The Rookie: Feds" will continue to mandate vaccinations for those in Zone A, and masking and testing measures will remain in place even on productions that no longer have the mandate.

The Return to Work Agreement has been extended on several occasions in the last two years. The current iteration, signed in late September or early October, extends until January 2023.

Disney declined to comment on the story, the LA Times stated.

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