The UK’s major broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky, and producer trade body Pact, have drawn up more detailed guidance on how productions should safely break two-meter social distancing rules, including when actors are involved in intimate scenes on-screen.
In short, the new guidance, which has been issued as an update to safety protocols published in May, recommends that shoots establish tightly controlled, easily identifiable “close contact cohorts,” each with as few members as possible. It added that members of these cohorts should be tested at least once a week for coronavirus alongside daily symptom checks, such as temperature tests.
The new guidance, which can be read in full here, said tests will normally be undertaken at the production facility and people will need complete their first screening approximately 48 hours before arriving on set. In the event of a positive result, all members of the close contact cohort must “self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom-free before they can recommence activity on production,” the guidance added.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “If we are to get back to producing the range and quality of programmes that the public love which reflect real-life interactions, we are going to need to film scenes and shows where people are closer than two metres apart.
“There will be increased screening for these groups, alongside daily symptom checks and close contact periods would be restricted on set. Close contact groups will be asked to follow social distancing rules during the time between an antigen test and their arrival on set, as well as observing social distancing in their daily life during the filming period. We will keep this advice under review if the situation changes.”
A version of these close contact cohorts is already in play on Fox Networks Group and Canal+’s drama War Of The Worlds, which resumed production today. Cast and a small number of essential crew wear green armbands on set and are subject to rigorous, regular screening, meaning they can break social distancing rules.