Awards season has a way of exposing behind-the-scenes fuckery in Hollywood, especially in the middle of a pandemic. The Oscars particularly had a rough go at planning for its first COVID-era ceremony, initially requiring for attendees to show up in person sans tie-dye hoodie to catch up with their fellow celebrity pals, as if it’s all business as usual. But the Academy forgot one very important detail: lots of nominees don’t live in the United States and aren’t quite ready to risk their health and that of those around them just to maybe get a gold statue and not have to awkwardly give their acceptance speech on Zoom. After some feedback, Oscar producers added an event space in London where nominees can gather and pretend they’re back in L.A., and are planning to add more across Europe. But the Academy’s still desperately trying to pretend like over 2.8 million people didn’t die from COVID in the past year.
And now they can act like they were in the same precarious positions as some of the professionals who witnessed those deaths. Variety reports that the Academy has announced in a letter to attendees that Oscar nominees and their guests will qualify as essential workers as a loophole to be able to attend Hollywood’s hottest superspreader event of the year. Since the ceremony is a television show, it and everyone involved in its production—attendees included—are covered by the same exemptions that have allowed other television shows and movies to resume filming.
As excerpted in Variety, the letter reads:
“Those involved in the Oscars production, like nominees and their guest, qualify for the essential work purpose waiver, and therefore are permitted to travel to and from the testing center, rehearsals, and Academy-organized activities during the lead up to the Oscars production, including, of course, the award show. The organizers of the Oscars are implementing a required quarantine to capture the risk of each person attending the event.”
The Academy also specified that there are different quarantine requirements and arrival dates depending on whether the attendee is a domestic traveler, a low-risk international traveler, or a high-risk international traveler.
“If you travel into Los Angeles County from outside of California, you need to self-quarantine for 10 days after you arrive and may not interact with anyone during those 10 days except the people in your household, i.e. people with whom you live. If you travel into Los Angeles County solely for essential work purposes, you still need to self-quarantine (when not working) for 10 days and may not interact with people other than those necessary to conduct your essential work.”
Variety also reports that all attendees are required to have a minimum of two COVID-19 PCR tests and a total of three COVID tests in the week before the ceremony. The letter specifies: “Testing: Pre-travel PCR. You will test mail in/in-person on the 19th (we supply) mail-in/in-person on the 22nd (we supply) and test in-person at the JW Marriott on the morning of the 25th.”
Having celebrities qualify as “essential workers” just so they can attend the Oscars isn’t a good look. But at least those of us who aren’t amongst the rich and famous can take a bit of comfort in knowing that at least they’re not being offered the vaccine before the rest of us are.