Agreement between the major UK TV broadcasters, the Association for Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Services (COBA) and trade association Pact means TV cameras can start rolling again.

TV cameramen wearing face masks

New social distancing guidelines have been agreed between the UK’s biggest broadcasters to enable the resumption of TV production, three months after the cameras stopped rolling because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The guidelines – which include actors having to do their own make-up and cast and crew members bringing their own cups and plates to sets, have been agreed between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and ITN, as well as the trade association PACT, which represents the hundreds of independent TV producers in the UK.

The new guidelines have been produced following collaboration between cross-industry experts, media and entertainment industry safety consultants First Option, trade union representatives and the Health and Safety Executive.

See the full guidance from First Option here: COVID-19 Production Protocols and Generic Risk Assessment

The expectation is that this guidance will develop and be updated over the coming weeks and months as the lockdown is eased, government advice evolves and TV productions adapt to the new challenges posed by social distancing measures.

What is included in the guidelines?

The new COVID-19 TV production guidance details certain areas that producers and broadcasters must consider:

  • Specifically consider people at higher risk of harm
  • Heighten precautions for everyone at work
  • Reduce the number of people involved
  • Consider editorial ‘on camera’ requirements
  • Consider mental health and wellbeing

Some of the key factors to consider are:

Travel – Make efforts to minimise travel and all travel arrangements must follow social distancing measures wherever possible

Location – The physical capacity of the space should be considered in relation to the social distancing requirements as well as the provision of key hygiene facilities

Work activities – Consider what actions workers need to undertake across all production roles and whether these can be adapted to reduce risk

Work equipment – Potential issues with common touchpoints should be addressed, as well as good hygiene practices throughout production

Work patterns – Consider organising work and shift patterns to limit the numbers of people who come into contact with other people/groups

Rest areas – Rest areas may need some reconfiguration and breaks may need to be planned to make sure they are as safe as possible

First aid and emergency services – As well as the risk of emergency services not being able to attend the scene as quickly as before, first aiders are also at increased risk of coronavirus

Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) – Use of PPE is viewed as a last resort and should only be considered when all other forms of control have been considered and/or implemented. It would not be appropriate to source medical grade PPE. The very limited exceptions to this might be when filming in higher Covid-19 risk settings such as hospitals which would only be at the invitation of the relevant hospital authorities

Mental health – Consider the potential mental health impact of the pandemic on those working on productions

Make sure you are covered

The resumption of UK TV production hopefully means a lot of freelancers and self-employed workers in the TV industry will soon be returning to work.

If you have cancelled any work-related insurance policies during the COVID-19 lockdown, or allowed policies to lapse while you were not working, then it is important to make sure you are covered before going back to work.

Use the links below to find out more about the different insurance policies you may need when working in film and TV production:

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