LA may be a company town, but there are certain things even the film industry can’t get away with during a pandemic.
Early on Tuesday morning, after intense backlash, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city would re-open a coronavirus testing site at the downtown Union Station, which Angelenos were told would be shut down for a day for filming of a remake of the 1999 film She’s All That.
Working with @LAFD, @Curative & @MetroLosAngeles, my team has worked to reopen testing at Union Station on Tuesday. The 504 Angelenos who were scheduled for a test there can visit the kiosk as originally planned or any of the other 14 City sites, where we offer 38K tests daily.
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) December 1, 2020
Late on Monday, Curative, a company that works with the city to run testing sites, sent out an email to the 500-plus people scheduled to test at the site on 1 December, informing them the location was temporarily shut down due to an “event”, according to screenshots.
“We know this is a huge inconvenience and again apologize for the delayed notification!” the email reads.
In the middle of a horrible and terrifying COVID spike, LA just cancelled all of its Dec 1 appointments at Union Station (one of the only transit-accessible facilities) with less than 24hrs notice because of A FILM SHOOT!! @MayorOfLA @metrolosangeles @lapublichealth WTF???!!??? pic.twitter.com/zwR36TH4G4
— Ktown for All 💜❤ (@KtownforAll) December 1, 2020
The testing site is more accessible than some others in the city due to its connection with public transit.
The decision to close the testing center for the day to allow the city-sanctioned production to go forward came from Union Station’s property managers, Deadline reports, and was met with some surprise from the mayor’s office, which initially offered the 504 people scheduled for a test appointments on the same day at other locations, while also working to re-open the station.
“Earlier today we learned that our Union Station testing kiosk was unexpectedly closed in advance of tomorrow’s appointments,” a mayoral spokesperson told Deadline. “We remain committed to providing free tests and are scheduled to test more than 38,000 people tomorrow,” they added.
The film, He’s All That, is a gender-swapped remake of the 1999 rom-com She’s All That.
The mini-scandal could not have come at a worse time for the city. On Monday, all public and private gatherings outside a single household were banned for the next three weeks in LA County, the nation’s most populous, and businesses were ordered to operate under further-reduced capacity, as the county struggles with a renewed coronavirus outbreak.
The county had roughly 25,000 new cases last week, the most of anywhere in the US, and reported a record-breaking 2,185 hospitalizations on Monday.
Now, close-contact and crowd scenes are discouraged, and sets operate with regular testing and temperature checks, as well as various “bubbles” of staff who don’t interact with each other unless necessary. Some have gone even further, isolating entire crews together during production.
It’s not the first time testing centers have been caught up in LA politics. In June, amid Black Lives Matter protests, Los Angeles shut down testing sites citywide while only putting curfews on certain neighborhoods.
"We're not going to stand for people who destroy shop windows,” mayor Garcetti said at the time, which some interpreted as a rebuke against protesters.