Sisterhood”, a new 40-episode Chinese-language drama series has started shooting at Iskandar Malaysia Studios, amid a continuing wave of COVID19 infections in the South-east Asian country.

Producers have had to comply with COVID-19 shooting guidelines from Malaysia’s National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), including online production meetings, mask mandates for production staff, mandatory contact tracing via the government’s MySejahtera app, and a complete ban on the filming of any scenes with physical contact.

Production travel has also been boosted by the establishment of “reciprocal green lane” travel between Malaysia and nearby Singapore. Members of the production, including Singaporean actor Tay Ping Hui, have to abide by mandatory testing and controlled itineraries while in the country, although the mandatory 14-day quarantine is waved for RGL travellers.

The series, produced by G.H.Y Culture and Chinese streaming giant iQIYI, follows the diverging lives of two female immigrants in 1930s Singapore, and is a follow up to the company’s 2020 series “The Little Nyonya.” The budget is understood to be similar to the latter, at about $20.5 million. A further $4.8 million was spent building period-specific street sets over 6 acres of backlot.

“The Little Nyonya” was released simultaneously on streaming platforms iQIYI and Youku, as well as on Chinese terrestrial broadcaster CCTV-8, where it charted 6th in ratings for local drama series in the first half of 2020.

Malaysia reported 649 new Covid-19 infections on Oct. 29. Ten of these cases were in Johor state, where the production is situated.