By Jake Kanter
May 18, 2020 1:45am

British broadcasters and producers have joined forces to publish coronavirus safety guidelines for TV production.

The 15-page document (which can be viewed in full here) is the work of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ViacomCBS, Sky, Pact and others, and is designed to supplement protocols that will be published by the British Film Commission.

It follows the government green-lighting a return to production last week, meaning that shows shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic — such as BBC drama Line Of Duty — can theoretically begin shooting again.

The guidelines state that producers and broadcasters must make provisions in six areas before commencing production on television projects across all genres. These include:

    • Specifically consider people at higher risk of harm
    • Heighten safety precautions for everyone at work
    • Reduce the number of people involved in shoots
    • Consider on-camera requirements, such as changing scripts to encourage social distancing
    • Consider mental health and wellbeing of cast and crew
    • Establish feedback loops

The guidance, which includes input from Dr Paul Litchfield, safety consultancy First Option and the Health and Safety Executive, goes into detail on nine key considerations for producers. These are:

Travel: Travel should be reduced where possible and public transport should be avoided.

Location: Film outdoors where possible, or in locations where social distancing can be observed.

Work activities: Plan to maintain a 2-meter distance between people, installing plexiglass when people are close to each other, ensuring talent applies their own hair and makeup.

Work equipment: Sanitizing filming and recording equipment, providing crew with dedicated equipment.

Work patterns: Allow people to work in small groups or cohorts, and stagger shift patterns.

Rest areas: Reconfigure areas including lunch zones, including marking out spaces for people and ensuring that catering does not become a breeding ground for cross-contamination.

First aid and emergency services: On-set medical provision should be increased.

Personal protective equipment: PPE should be a “last resort” and should only be considered when all other forms of control have been considered and/or implemented.

Mental health: Consider how coronavirus is impacting employee health, and provide spaces for people to have downtime during the working day.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Great British television is keeping us company throughout the crisis, and I’m keen to get cameras rolling as soon as it is safe.”

BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Everyone across the TV industry wants to get production back up and running. Recent weeks have shown just how important shows are to the public. But we can only move forward with the right safety measures in place. This guidance is an attempt to get that right.”

ITV CEO Carolyn McCall added: “Our production teams are now working hard to bring many more much loved shows back for viewers. This requires really innovative thinking, but above all, the safety and well-being of all those who work on the programmes is paramount.”

Pact CEO John McVay continued: “This guidance from all the major commissioning broadcasters in the UK is a very helpful first step to getting the industry back working and taking forward the recovery.”

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