Major Hollywood studio Lionsgate has brought back mask mandates to nearly half its employees amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Sommer McElroy, response manager for Lionsgate/Starz, announced the new policy in an internal memo obtained by Deadline after several employees tested positive.
“Employees must wear a medical grade face covering (surgical mask, KN95 or N95) when indoors except when alone in an office with the door closed, actively eating, actively drinking at their desk or workstation, or if they are the only individual present in a large open workspace,” he wrote, according to the outlet.
The mandate will be in effect until further notice for the third and fifth floors of the five-story building at the company’s flagship office in Santa Monica, according to the email cited by Deadline.
Every employee also is required to perform a daily self-screening before arriving at work every day and must notify McElroy and remain at home if they exhibit any symptoms or have traveled internationally in the prior 10 days.
Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell wearing masks on a movie set in 2020.Future Publishing via Getty Images
Lionsgate also will provide at-home test kits upon request, carry out contact tracing and notify “all individuals who have been in close contact with employees who have tested positive for COVID-19,” according to Fox News Digital, which also obtained a copy of the memo.
The LA County Department of Public Health recently reported “small increases in COVID-19 indicators over the past four weeks indicating increased transmission,” Deadline reported.
The agency stressed that “overall metrics remain at a low level of concern.”
Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, also announced a mask mandate for everyone on campus – citing “reports of positive cases among students in the Atlanta University Center” as the reason, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Morris Brown President Kevin James told the news outlet that the liberal arts college has received no reports of cases on its own campus yet – and described the steps as “precautionary measures.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) last week warned about a new, “highly mutated variant” of the coronavirus named BA.2.86 that’s spreading across the globe.
New variants continue to appear — including the latest one dubbed EG.5, or “eris” — but no single strain has emerged as the dominant one.
Recent data from the New York state Department of Health, released Aug. 2, showed that cases jumped by 55% over the prior week, with an average of 824 reported cases per day across the state.
The CDC recorded 10,320 hospital admissions in the US for COVID-19 in the week ending Aug. 5 — a 14.3% spike from the week prior.
Dr. Nicole Saphier called it “just a normal cycle of this respiratory virus” that should not need a return to widespread mask mandates.
“Anyone who is immunocompromised, or if you work with people who are immunocompromised, those are the people in appropriate settings [that] should consider wearing a high-quality mask, like an N-95, not a single layer of cloth or surgical mask,” Saphier said on “Outnumbered.”
“But to actually say, you know, to wear masks again in the house and just being in public spaces, we have to move on,” she said.