Czech Republic Restarts Production Under Coronavirus Guidelines

The Czech Republic has issued new guidelines that will allow television and film productions to start up again immediately.

As with most of the world, almost all production in Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic was shuttered amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

But the Czech government on Thursday announced studio backlots can reopen and shoots can resume, provided they meet new hygienic standards.

These include regular testing of actors for coronavirus infection every 14 days during production and the maintaining of sanitation standards both on location and in studios. Foreign actors and crewmembers will have to show the results of a negative test before leaving their home country to be allowed to enter the Czech Republic. They will be given a second test within 72 hours of arrival and remain quarantined until they receive a negative result.

“In this way they can avoid the 14-day quarantine [which applies to other foreign visitors] which would severely impact film budgets,” said Czech film commissioner Pavlina Zipkova.

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Productions will be exempted from other restrictions, however. Onscreen talent will not be required to wear face masks and production shoots will be exempted from government regulations banning gatherings of more than two people in one place.

The new regulations were drawn up by the Czech Audiovisual Producers’ Association in cooperation with the Czech Film Fund and the European Institute for Health and Safety in Film Industry. The Czech Film Commission has posted the new guidelines on its website.

Prague is one of the first territories to open up production following the COVID-19 shutdown, and the local industry hopes to quickly restart several TV and film shoots that had to shutter during the crisis.

Amazon Studios has two major TV series prepped to shoot in the Czech Republic: the new season of Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom, and the upcoming epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, based on Robert Jordan’s best-selling books.

Marvel’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a Disney+ original, was filming in Prague when the pandemic shut down production. Feature films that had planned to shoot in the country include Justin Kurzel’s war thriller Ruin, starring Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts, the Netflix feature 473 Transatlantic and Danish period epic Margrete – Queen of the North, starring Trine Dyrholm as 15th century monarch Margrete I.

Travel to and from the Czech Republic could remain an issue for international crews. Prague reopened its borders April 27 for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom, but there are still travel restrictions in place for most non-Europeans. Many of those could be lifted on May 15. Zipkova was keen to point out that the restrictions are “only a recommendation, not a prohibition” and that exceptions could be made for international cast and crew.

The Czech government has been praised for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Prague introduced a state of emergency on March 12, after only 116 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, had been detected in the country. To date, the Czech Republic has recorded just under 8,000 cases of COVID-19 and 263 deaths attributed to the disease.

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