• New guidance on working more closely than two metres apart
  • Regular testing and small cohorts among key guidelines
  • New guidance adds to measures published in May

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Production post lockdown: UK broadcasters add Covid-19 guidelines

UK broadcasters have partnered with COBA and Pact to release new guidance for producing television while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

UK broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, STV, ITN as well as the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (COBA) and producers alliance Pact have published new guidance for producing television safely when cast and crew need to work more closely than two metres apart.

The new seven-page guidance adds to measures issued in May for the safe production of television following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidance covers how pairs or small groups of cast and crew could interact closer than two metres safely on set - where all other options have been considered and discounted, including adapting editorial onscreen requirements.

The document recommends the establishment of close contact cohorts (CCCs), which would be regularly tested.

The cohort is defined as a small a number of people as possible who unavoidably need to be in close contact with each other. A cohort can include both cast and crew.

Testing would be on a regular weekly basis alongside other daily screening routine checks for symptoms. “This approach offers a reasonable and sensible level of risk mitigation but it cannot eliminate risk,” says the document.

The document adds that the CCC mitigation process is different from the concept of creating a COVID-free ‘bubble’. “The bubble relies upon more stringent testing and quarantine to be applied prior to entering the, very controlled, bubble environment. The bubble approach would only be appropriate where the risk of COVID needs to be controlled to an exceptionally low level due to significant vulnerabilities of others within the bubble or other commercial reasons that could impact production delivery significantly.”

The new guidance covers all programme making in every genre for TV and is complementary to British Film Commission guidance on managing the risks associated with film and high-end TV drama production.

An ITV spokesperson said: “Working with partners across the industry, this advice builds on the industry wide guidelines published in May and reflects the evolving situation we all find ourselves in. Above all, the guidance is there to ensure the safety and well-being of all those who work on the programmes.”