As the UK readies for its second national lockdown in response to surging COVID-19 cases, culture secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed film and TV productions could continue to operate under the new restrictions.
“We understand the anxiety & impact these [restrictions] will have, and will ensure they last not a day longer than necessary,” Dowden said on Twitter Saturday (Oct. 31). “The changes mean people should WFH where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers. We understand people will have a lot of questions and officials & ministers will be working through these and detailed implications with sectors over the coming days.”
In a press conference held Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) set out the new restrictions coming into effect starting Thursday (Nov. 5) through to Dec. 2.
The measures, scaled back to some degree from the country’s first lockdown in March and April, require individuals to stay at home unless for education; exercise and recreation outdoors; medical reasons; to shop for food and supplies; to provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer; and for work, where working from home isn’t possible.
Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed.
“I am under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure hardship this year. I am truly, truly sorry for that,” Johnson said. “This is why we are also going to extend the furlough system through November. The furlough scheme was a success in the spring. It supported people and businesses in a critical time. We will not end it. We will extend it until December.”
Adrian Wootton OBE, chief executive of the British Film Commission (BFC), said in a statement: “Despite the extraordinary and difficult circumstances surrounding this second national lockdown, it’s a great relief to see confirmation from the Culture Secretary that we have Government’s support to continue film and TV production in the UK during lockdown, so long as productions are safely working within the extremely rigorous and comprehensive COVID safety guidance prepared by the British Film Commission, developed in liaison with Government and industry.”
Film and television production is also permitted under current restrictions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The commission — the UK government’s national organization responsible for international film and TV production in the country, and the national division of Film London – plans to update its Working Safely During Covid-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production Guidance.
Funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for International Trade and the BFI, the BFC leads on maximizing and supporting the production of major international feature film and high-end television in the UK; strengthening and promoting the UK’s film and television infrastructure; and liaising between the government and the film and television industry on policy issues that impact on production.