The Hollywood Reporter brings us updates from several European countries, including Iceland, the Czech Republic, Poland and France, where a return to film and television production is being allowed under strict new COVID-19 guidelines.
Some of the hygiene guidelines are near-universal, such as two metres (6.5 feet) social distancing between crew members and the use of face masks and disinfectant. Closed sets are required almost everywhere and there are tight limits on the numbers of people allowed on set at any one time.
In Spain, shooting is being allowed in areas where the rates of COVID-19 transmission are low, such as the Canary Islands and the Valencia region, but it’s a different story in Madrid and Barcelona, which still have high infection levels.
In France, Paris has allowed production to start up again, albeit under very tight restrictions, as thee French government has designated the city a “red-zone”.
The Czech Republic opened up its borders for non-European travellers on May 11, but cast and crew are required to undergo a COVID-19 test and show that they have tested negative before entering the country.
All foreign visitors to Iceland have to go into quarantine for 14 days, but crews can get special dispensation to work while in quarantine.
Travel around the rest of Europe is not easy,. There are big restrictions on travel from non-EU countries and Europe’s external borders will remain closed for most travel at least until mid-June.
THR’s take on the production guidelines and restrictions
The Prague government was one of the first to reopen production, approving measures to allow TV and film shoots in the country on May 7. The Czech Republic is a major hub for international shoots. Amazon Studios had two TV series prepped to shoot here — the second season of Orlando Bloom-starrer Carnival Row and the upcoming epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time — when COVID-19 hit. Disney+ series Falcon and the Winter Soldier was in the midst of shooting when the pandemic shut down production.
Czech regulations require foreign actors and crewmembers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to enter the country. They will be given a second test within 72 hours of arrival and remain quarantined until they receive a negative result, which usually comes within 24 hours.
One European producer noted that obtaining tests could prove a problem for some. “We’re trying to figure out how to make this happen in Scandinavia where testing, for obvious reasons, is prioritized for the health system,” he noted. But Czech film commissioner Pavlina Zipkova points out that those with negative test results will avoid the 14-day quarantine rules that apply to other visitors, meaning they can begin work immediately.
Film and TV productions will also be exempted from other COVID-19 restrictions, so that onscreen talent will not be required to wear face masks and government regulations banning gatherings of more than two people in one place will not apply. The Czech Film Commission has posted its new, self-regulatory, guidelines on its website.
One notable measure: Regular COVID-19 testing is only required for on-camera talent (who are not required to wear face masks). Actors have be be tested every 14 days throughout the shoot.
Paris gave the greenlight to restart film and television production in the French capital May 11 under guidelines that designate the city as one of country’s red zones, where stricter COVID-19 safety measures remain in place.
The shooting regulations limit on-set groups to 50 people and require sets to be closed to the general public.
Certain other restrictions apply to shooting on public roads and bridges, details of which can be found (in French) on the website of the Ville de Paris — Mission Cinéma, the municipal authority that authorizes film shoots in the French capital.
Iceland, a country largely spared from the ravages of the coronavirus epidemic (there have been a total of three confirmed COVID-19 infections on the island this month) reopened its borders to international production professionals May 15.
Producers can apply for an exemption to travel restrictions, which will allow crews to enter and begin production immediately, serving their 14-day quarantine isolated on set and in their hotel. The local production service company will apply for the exemption on behalf of the visiting crewmembers.
Within the country, crewmembers have to travel by means of private vehicle, taxi or rental car, or via means provided by the on-site production company. Iceland’s film commission has posted details of its regulations on its website.
Iceland is expected to open its borders to all tourists June 15, requiring visitors to either provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or take a test upon arrival, remaining in quarantine until a negative result comes back. “Now, when we are open for business but before tourists come back, is a particularly great time to shoot in Iceland,” film commissioner Einar Hansen Tomasson tells THR. “You have access to some of the most beautiful natural locations, which would normally be full of tourists but right now are completely empty.”
The Polish government has further lifted restrictions on the country’s coronavirus shutdown, which will allow film and TV production to restart May 18. Face masks for crew and social distancing on film sets is recommended, but actors are exempted.
The regulations allow for a maximum of 50 people in one area, so productions will have to limit crowds on set and regulate movement between different zones in a single production.
Poland has published detailed guidelines of the new regulations at www.kultura.gov.pl.
The Portuguese Film Commission announced this week that the country is open for business and issued detailed guidelines, available here, on what conditions productions have to meet to fulfill new hygienic requirements.
These include a detailed production plan that lays out, on a daily basis, the safety requirements on set and a designated health coordinator to ensure these hygienic measures are applied correctly. Among the requirements are contactless thermometers to take the temperature of cast and crewmembers before they are allowed on set.
Spain, which has become a hub for European production, particularly with the increased investment from Netflix in local-language series such as Money Heist and Elite, reopened sections of the country May 11 for film and TV shoots. Production will only be allowed provinces and territories that are in phase one of the government’s “de-escalation process” for reopening the country. That covers about half of Spain but currently leaves out major urban areas including Madrid and Barcelona.
The Spanish film commission has issued nonbinding guidelines for best practices, available on its website.
Among the regulations is a requirement for producers to designate a person or team who will record all actions carried out during filming — including a list of people who access the set, disinfection protocols, etc. — and provide this information to authorities as required.