Lionsgate tells employees to wear masks amid new Covid variant

Lionsgate has told nearly half of its employees to wear masks in the workplace as Covid cases rise in the United States.

The entertainment production company, which has a London-based film division, recently told staff at their flagship quarters in Santa Monica, California that those on the third and fifth floors of the five-storey building must use medical-grade protection.

Workers must remain masked up while working amongst colleagues, and can only be removed for specific tasks such as eating.

This follows several employees testing positive for Covid in recent days and weeks, and the national rise in people being admitted to hospital for the virus.

The email was delivered by Sommer McElroy, Response Manager for Lionsgate/Starz.

“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,” McElroy said in the memo, first reported by Deadline.

The mandate will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

As well as this, every Lionsgate employee is required to complete a self-screening test ahead of arriving at the office. Staff returning from international travel in the last 10 days must work from home.

Los Angeles, California has seen a recent “noticeable rise” in Covid cases, the publication reported, noting that some experienced virus symptoms after attending Taylor Swift’s sold-out stadium shows earlier this month.

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The EG5 Covid variant is now the dominant strain of the virus in the US and accounts for almost one-fifth of cases across the country. The rate of people being admitted to hospital for Covid is having its first significant uptick since December 2022.

However, experts have suggested that it is not any more concerning than other types of Covid.

Many Hollywood work environments relaxed the mandate for Covid last May. In January, Lionsgate announced its office structure of staff being in the office four days a week, with Friday being a work-from-home day that finishes at 1pm.

The same Monday-to-Thursday office structure has been present at Disney since March. CEO Bob Iger told workers in a memo of his “belief that working together more in-person will benefit the Company’s creativity, culture, and our employees’ careers.”