A spike in COVID cases in Los Angeles has forced the Television Critics Association summer press tour to go virtual.
The TCA had been slated to hold its first in-person version of the press tour in more than two years, beginning July 27. But with the B.A.5 variant of the coronavirus causing a rise in cases and Los Angeles County on the verge of reimposing an indoor mask mandate, several media companies informed the group that they planned to shift to virtual sessions.
Those factors “combined to make scheduling days challenging, if not impossible,” the TCA said in an email to members Thursday. “Shows in production cannot or do not want to break COVID bubbles; producers, writers, talent, and publicists are not willing to appear in person.”
Pre-pandemic, the semiannual TCA press tour brought critics and reporters from across the United States and Canada to Los Angeles for two-plus weeks of panels with producers, actors and TV executives. The event shifted to virtual presentations in the summer of 2020 and was slated to return to the Langham Hotel in Pasadena next week, with the group’s annual awards also slated to take place in person for the first time since 2019.
Dates for the virtual tour are still up in the air and may not follow the same schedule as the now scuttled in person event.
In its email to members, the TCA board did say network reps remain committed to an in-person tour in early 2023 — pending the state of the pandemic at that time.