EXCLUSIVE: The UK government has given the green light for high-end TV and film productions to resume shooting as soon as employers have put in place coronavirus safety measures, Deadline understands.
The government has not been specific over whether this advice applies to shuttered high-end film and TV sets, but it is understood that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is now encouraging the industry to return to work.
The change of position after seven weeks of lockdown could be a boost for the thousands of industry professionals who have lost work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the production companies impacted by the filming hiatus.
Although news, unscripted and entertainment TV shows have continued to be made, countless big-budget scripted projects have been derailed by the crisis in the UK, including hit TV dramas Peaky Blinders, Sex Education, Call The Midwife, Line Of Duty and The Witcher, and features such as The Batman and Little Mermaid.
A DCMS spokeswoman said: “The government is working closely with the screen sector to understand how different types of productions can comply with social distancing guidelines, and give confidence to people in the TV and film industries that there are safe ways in which they can return to work.
Getting production back on its feet will be fraught with complication and will change shoots beyond recognition. There are also issues over insurance, which will need to be resolved before filming can be resumed.
The British Film Commission has been feeding into government plans by drafting industry-wide safety protocols for high-end UK film and TV shoots. Obtained by Deadline, the draft guidelines are designed to keep sets safe from coronavirus by introducing measures including pre-shoot safety training, testing and quarantining foreign actors.
The so-called Film And TV Production Codes Of Practice are currently undergoing a period of industry consultation until Friday, after which the guidelines will be finalized. They are designed to be scalable for productions of different sizes and can be used alongside company-specific protocols.