In early 2020, Hollywood went on lockdown, like most other industries around the world. Sets closed without a lot of promises for when they’d reopen, and things have taken a lot longer than most people would have guessed to get going again. Now, movie studios are left to make decisions on safety protocols. How do they give actors and crew a safe work environment? This is particularly difficult when, currently, the United States is divided on the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has decided on its new protocol. Starting in mid-October 2021, their employees will wear stickers and wristbands to identify the vaccinated.
Productions are divided into zones. The high-profile stars working on set, where they can’t wear masks, are often in Zone A. Employees in Zone A who are vaccinated will wear a wristband. Those who are not will not. In the other zones, Disney employees will wear stickers in the same way. People with stickers are vaccinated. People without are not. This system was outlined in a return-to-work agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and unions in Hollywood. The system doesn’t apply to productions already happening, only ones beginning after the protocols are put into place in mid-October.
That means movies like Black Panther 2 are not part of the sticker and wristband procedure Disney is rolling out. That production is currently seeing some behind-the-scenes drama over vaccinations as Letitia Wright (who plays Shuri) continues to share her anti-vaccination viewpoints on set.
The sticker solution Disney is rolling out may not satisfy everyone. Months ago, Jennifer Aniston made it known that she is not associating with people who aren’t vaccinated. The sticker system would make it easier for her to know who has and has not disclosed their vaccination status. Her decision on how to handle vaccinations and interactions with people in her personal and professional life was considered controversial as many, like Gina Carano, swore that they would never ask anyone personal medical questions or allow those decisions to affect who she talks to. Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston has said that she feels a responsibility to not spread the deadly virus to those who remain in her circle.
Actor Sean Penn drew a lot of attention when he refused to return to work on the set of Gaslit. While the studio had stricter vaccination protocols than Disney has laid out, they weren’t enough for Penn. He was in a standoff against production for several months. Sean Penn has been working with organizations to help people get vaccinated and felt it would be irresponsible and hypocritical to then return to a set where employees weren’t required to provide proof of vaccination. Eventually, he reached a compromise with the company.
The sticker system applies to Disney productions, but the company has a much wider scope. This is a company that owns theme parks, is a movie studio, and more. They are continuing to set new protocols in their various workplaces. These rules have been heavily affected by which employees are union. Many theme park employees have been required to provide proof of vaccination in order to work around other people. Major companies like Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart have been making similar decisions.