DCMS OKs socially-distanced film & TV production in UK

It is reported today on and that the DCMS (Dept. of Media, Culture and Sport) has confirmed that socially-distanced film and TV production can resume in the UK for the first time since the lockdown began on March 23. This will come as a big relief o anybody reading this post, but what does it actually mean?

The change in position is part of the government’s latest guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic, Productions will be obliged to comply fully with the government’s new instructions which will be published later this week. So far, the guidance includes the instruction “All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open”, but adds the reminder to “ensure employees can maintain a two-metre distance from others, and wash their hands regularly”.

An industry-wide consultation on new filming protocols and insurance issues is due to close this Friday, May 15. 

“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”

Source: DMCS spokesperson

Deadline has already published a leaked set of draft safety protocols for keeping UK shoots safe, which includes:

Coronavirus training

All crew must take coronavirus safety training two days before a shoot

On-set supervision and enforcement

  • Every production should have a COVID-19 supervisor, who has the authority to stop work if it becomes unsafe
  • There should be daily briefings on best practice, with posters hung on walls and online tools made available
  • Extra security should be hired to manage exit and entry points on-set

Testing and health checks

  • Cast and crew should undergo pre-shoot health screenings and have their temperature checked twice a day
  • If a member of the team displays coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home or to their accommodation on private transport

Social distancing and mental health

  • Cast and crew should observe 2-meter social distancing rules. Where this is not possible, the time people spend together should be limited and they should work back-to-back or shoulder-to-shoulder, rather than face-to-face
  • People should avoid physical contact when greeting each other, including fist and elbow bumps
  • Producers should make extra provisions for mental health, offering support for heightened stress and anxiety


  • Airlines operating appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures should be favored
  • Domestic public transport should be a “last resort” and vehicle sharing should be limited

Quarantining for foreign cast and crew

  • Cast and crew from outside the UK should be quarantined and tested following government guidelines
  • Communication with those in quarantine should be done remotely through phone or video calls

Cast and crew on-set

  • Cast and crews should be organized into numerous cohorts so that departments are separated
  • Shoots should build in extra preparation time to allow departments to work alone, such as set dressing and lighting
  • Shared equipment should be sanitized
  • Access to shared working spaces should be limited
  • Remote communication tools should be used wherever possible


  • There should be no communal food preparation, storage or serving
  • Single-use foods and eating utensils should be encouraged
  • Mealtimes should be staggered

Workplace hygiene

  • Staff should be dedicated to cleaning all work areas
  • Communal spaces such as toilets and dressing rooms should be deep cleaned daily
  • Waste should be disposed of safely
  • Sets should be locked down when not in use
  • Personal and hired equipment should not be shared and where this is unavoidable, it should be regularly disinfected

Crowd scenes

  • Crowd scenes should be replaced with CGI where possible to reduce the number of supporting artists on set
  • Extras should be kept socially distanced, should not be facing each other and should be on set for as little time as possible
  • They should do their own hair and makeup where possible

Art department and set dressing

  • Art department crew should be given more time to sanitize props, furniture, and set dressings that come into contact with cast and crew
  • The handling of key props should be limited to the relevant actors
  • Props and decorations should be purchased online where possible

Costume department

  • Fittings should take place off-set or remotely where possible
  • Physical contact should be kept at a minimum and those involved should use PPE
  • Costumes should be hung in plastic wrappings when not in use to avoid cross-contamination

Hair and makeup

  • Keep hair and makeup stations 2 meters apart, and ban food and drink
  • PPE should be used to set up stations, tools should be allocated to cast members and single-use applicators will be important
  • Products should be sealed and disinfected when not in use


  • Locations should be of sufficient size to allow for social distancing and be isolated from the public
  • Locations should be scouted by one person and deep cleaned at the end of each day of shooting
  • Dressed sets should be quarantined for 72 hours before a shoot

This is a developing story and there will no doubt be more information forthcoming from the DCMS specifically about film and TV production as well as the general UK government advice. We’ll bring you more news as we receive it.