As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, most companies were forced to shut down their offices, and employees were made to work from home as a way to keep people safe. The Walt Disney Company was not immune from the shutdowns — Disney theme parks around the globe were closed, and studios in places like Burbank were shuttered. Whether television productions, movies, or being produced for streaming on Disney+, nearly all productions were paused.
Finally, after months of the entertainment industry being at a standstill, productions were slowly allowed to resume, but there were strict protocols in place. Many productions were even required to hire people to ensure that COVID rules — like mask-wearing, social distancing, and testing requirements — were followed. After the COVID vaccine was developed, many production companies — Disney included — required all cast and crew to be vaccinated, or they would not be allowed to work on the project.
It has been more than a year since vaccines became widely available, and COVID numbers are low throughout most of the country. Social distancing rules are not enforced in most locations, and mask-wearing is typically optional. With the height of the pandemic getting further and further in the rearview mirror, Disney has decided to drop its company-wide vaccine mandate. And that is having an impact on a lot of Walt Disney film and television productions.
Disney no longer requires vaccinations for the casts of all of its U.S. productions, as well as those who come into contact with them on set. I hear the majority of Disney-produced series have now lifted the mandate, including ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 and Fox’s9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star. According to sources, a few U.S-based series produced/co-produced by various Disney divisions are keeping the requirement in place, including ABC’s The Rookie and The Rookie: Feds, whose lead studio is eOne.
The move was also confirmed by SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, who posted a TikTok video, saying “Way to go, Mickey!!”. Drescher said that she has been fighting hard against vaccination requirements in the entertainment industry.
@disney pulls the plug on vaccine mandates! Way to go Mickey!!!!
Disney fired several well-known actors on popular shows because those actors refused to follow Disney’s vaccination protocol. Steve Burton and Ingo Rademacher were both let go from General Hospital when they refused to get the vaccine. Rockmond Dunbar was unceremoniously fired from the hit FOX show 9-1-1 when he refused to be vaccinated, claiming it was against his religion.