England is beginning its second, nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge in the U.K., but the country’s important film and TV production industries will actually be relatively unaffected this time around. Despite the fact that all pubs, restaurants and non-essential businesses have been ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to close until at least Dec. 2, 2020, film and TV studios will continue to operate under “strict, COVID-safe guidelines,” according to Variety. The trade publication received that information from producers’ trade group Pact, and it was clarified by the following statement from English Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden: “The changes mean people should WFH [work from home] where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”
The British film and TV production industries are an important arm of the Hollywood filmmaking machine as well, as lots such as Pinewood Studios have been the home of many blockbuster American productions. Films such as Jurassic World: Dominion have been filming in the U.K. since restrictions were first eased up. In this most recent lockdown, schools, universities, courts and parliament will also be remaining open.
Still, the pace of the virus in England is frightening, both to residents and the government. The U.K. recorded 21,915 new cases in one day this week, and a study by the Imperial College London estimated that the true number of daily infections was somewhere around 100,000.
Addressing the nation via a press briefing while announcing the lockdown, Johnson said the following:
“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature. Christmas is going to be different this year, perhaps very different, but it’s my sincere hope and belief, by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together. As we come together now to fight the second wave, I want to say something about the way ahead, because people will reasonably ask, ‘When will this end?’ And as I’ve said before, I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring.”
Wishful thinking, perhaps, but one has to wonder if extended lockdowns could once again extend to film production, throwing further kinks into the already throttled release schedule for major films in the next several years.