For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Ellen DeGeneres show brought back its live studio audience on Wednesday. A limited number of live viewers returned to the Ellen set, which was generously decorated to celebrate fall, wearing face masks and sitting more than six-feet away from each other.
“You’re spaced six feet apart. We’ve got as many of you in here as possible and please when you dance, try not to drift,” DeGeneres said.
Though the show capped the audience at 40 attendees, there wasn’t an empty seat in sight. The Ellen team placed large screens between live audience members to display those who opted to watch the taping virtually from home.
Upon starting her show on Wednesday, DeGeneres gave her viewers a rundown of the necessary precautions to experience the live taping. In addition to wearing masks and maintaining proper social distance, DeGeneres revealed that her fans also had to pass health screenings.
“All of you were tested and you tested negative for COVID. Some of you tested positive for other things, but I’m no snitch,” she quipped.
In an earlier announcement, the show revealed that each following episode will feature 40 live studio audience members, selected from a pool of fans seeking tickets. With the addition of virtual viewers, The Ellen DeGeneres Show studio audience comes to a total of 70 attendees.
As the show begins gearing up for special holiday episodes, the host is set to highlight and thank community leader, first responders and essential workers who have faced the COVID-19 pandemic head-on. Upcoming guests will include Melissa McCarthy, Jimmy Kimmel, Magic Johnson, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Usher and Vince Vaughn.
Upon returning to the studio back in September, DeGeneres addressed the allegations of a toxic workplace environment. In a Buzzfeed article, former staffers fo the daytime talk show detailed claims of racist comments and other abusive behavior from current employees and top-level staff. Upon the claims, WarnerMedia launched an investigation into the workspace and former executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman exited the program.
Watch DeGeneres welcome back her live audience in the clip below.