Thailand has become the latest country to unveil protocols for film and TV production following the coronavirus outbreak.
Developed by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Public Health and the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, the rules are intended to apply to inbound international productions, the local crews they work with, and to local productions.
Thailand has recorded one of the lowest rates of infection and death of any sizable country, but it has kept its borders almost totally sealed since April. Officially, it remains under a state of emergency, but stay-at-home rules have been largely dismantled.
“While the new system should allow filming to take place practically and efficiently, the health of the visiting production team and of the local population must be protected,” the protocols say in a preamble.
Although film has been designated as a priority, inbound film crews cannot escape Thailand’s currently very strict entry rules. Requirements include: an embassy-issued certificate of entry; recent COVID test results and a fit-to-fly certificate; $100,000 of personal medical insurance that specifically includes COVID-19, and a commitment to do 14 days of quarantine in a designated and pre-booked hotel, at the visitor’s expense. Air travel into the country is also significantly limited, and from many popular places of origin access is only possible by charter flights.
Once in the country, each member of the international production team will have to install a government-approved tracking device. The production must also pay the insurance premiums and possible excess for all local crew members.
In common with regulations recently introduced in other places, the Thai protocol sets out many rules about sanitary working, social distancing, personal protective equipment, airflow and crew transport. Meals must be individually pre-packed and shared food equipment is banned.
A health and safety officer must be on set at all times. And film workers are required to shower and change clothes before leaving the set. Electronic communication is to be favored over person-to-person conversations, and non-contact greetings are to be used instead of hugs, kisses or handshakes.
“If any cast and crew are found to be infected with COVID-19, the production must halt immediately.” All cast and crew will then have to move into quarantine for 14 days, it says.
Before the outbreak, Thailand had recently enjoyed a measure of success at attracting inbound international productions. “The production services industry had managed to expand capacity without either reducing quality or raising costs,” the Thailand Film Office said in a statement. And recent incoming productions, such as Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” and Chris Hemsworth action film “Extraction,” had lifted facilities sector revenue by 55% in 2019 to a record $152 million.