Australia Sets Production Safety Guidelines for Post-Coronavirus Era

Smoke haze covers the Sydney Harbour

The Australian screen production industry has published “COVID-Safe Guidelines” to help get the industry back to work, making film and TV shows.

Each production will need to draw up its own personalized COVID-safe production plan that identifies the specific control measures needed to mitigate the risks that the virus poses to its personnel, given each production’s location, scale and content. The guidelines

The guidelines detail both mandatory controls, informed by the latest government medical advice and states’ work health and safety legislation. They also specify a detailed, department-by-department range of control measures that each production can draw on to create its plan. This covers guidance on the number of people on set, shooting in close proximity, use of personal protective equipment, hygiene control measures, medical advice, and travel and transport.

The guidelines were drawn up by an industry-wide task force in consultation with the federal health department and global law firm Clyde & Co.

“We hope that the COVID-Safe Guidelines will help inform practitioners on what they need to be considering before they get back up and running. The Task Force have been unified in their passion to get the industry returning to work as soon as it is safe to do so, and this is a necessary and invaluable resource,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason.

Long-running soap opera “Neighbours” restarted filming on a specially modified set in Melbourne, earlier this month. “Fremantle, through its production of ‘Neighbours,’ has been leading the world in returning to a safe production environment and we have been thrilled to work with the Australian Film Television & Radio School as we all look to restart the industry, which can only be a great thing for audiences and the economy,” said Chris Oliver-Taylor, Fremantle CEO Asia-Pacific.

The 42-page guidelines document covers matter including: physical distancing (stay 1.5 metres apart, use video conferences where possible, no physical greetings); hygiene (daily deep cleaning of sets, offices, kitchens); working arrangements (staggered hours, minimize shared equipment); contractor and supplier management (contact-free, where possible); health monitoring; training (know how to use personal protective equipment); planning and communication; PPE (and how to dispose of it).

The guidelines are will be updated and evolve alongside continuing advice and as industry sector best practice develops. “These Guidelines mark the first step in our planning for a safe resumption of work,” said SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.

Organizations involved in drawing up the guidelines included: the AFTRS, Screen Australia, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Screen Producers Australia, state and territory agencies, guilds, Ausfilm and public broadcasters ABC and SBS.

SPA consulted with companies including Fremantle Australia, CJZ, Every Cloud Productions, Aquarius Films, Porchlight Films and Ludo Studio, as well as production companies with projects either in or about to return to production, Endemol Shine and See-Saw Films.

Australia has recorded 7,079 cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There have been 103 deaths.