Is the UK’s video production lockdown over?


Boris Johnson’s pre-recorded TV presentation on 10th May has fired the starting gun for ending the video production lockdown on location in the UK – with plenty of caveats you need to be aware of.

The speech left many questions unanswered around what staying alert means, but here’s what’s relevant to shooting film:

  • Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.
  • Avoid public transport.
  • The UK Government is working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.
  • Workflows and venues must be safe and social distancing must be enforced at all times.
  • These changes apply in England only. Guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is still to stay at home.

The background for the new guidelines is that the R rate (reproduction rate of Covid-19) is the key metric. The changes  are conditional and reversible, subject to the R rate remaining  well below 0. At the earliest by July, the UK Government hopes to re-open at least some hospitality and other public venues.

For video production, we understand this means:

  • Shoot rushes remotely if you can using online tools
  • If you can’t, you can shoot on location if you:
    • shoot in England. It’s unclear whether crew and talent living in the other UK nations can travel to work in England
    • don’t travel by public transport
    • maintain social distancing and hand hygiene at all times
    • ensure none of the crew or talent display symptoms or are in quarantine.

No doubt many outstanding questions will be clarified over the coming days and weeks. Ministers have mentioned a 50-page document that will offer more detail. And a rise in the infection rate will mean a return to full lockdown. But for now it seems shoots can resume under strict conditions.

We will update this article with the latest guidance as it becomes available. If you have comments, please get in touch here. The APA has produced these more detailed guidelines, including a Health Declaration Form which must be completed by anyone before they can attend the shoot. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed to Screen Daily on 12th May that TV production can restart within social distancing guidelines.