New Delhi: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday announced the reopening of the film and TV production industry. He also announced standard operating procedures (SOPs) for resuming shooting of films and TV programmes, and these include measures such as social distancing and mandatory use of face cover or masks for cast and crew, except for actors in front of camera.
He asserted that these measures will facilitate resumption of shooting and provide employment to scores of people impacted due to the film industry being hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The new SOP will be like a 'Sanjeevani' for the media production industry. Social distancing and masks will be an integral part of this SOP. The general principle behind the Standard Operating Procedure would help create a safe working environment for both the cast and the crew," Javadekar said.
The SOP demands measures like proper sanitisation, crowd management, and provision for protective equipment.
The Minister said that the core principle of this SOP is 'contact minimisation'.
"We are laying down SOPs as per international experience, and with the consultation of the health ministry and the home ministry, we have issued these SOPs," he said.
"This is an important aspect of the economy and it employs millions of people, therefore, we have issued this to facilitate now the production activity to resume. I am sure everyone will welcome this and all states will implement this," Javadekar said.
The SOP suggests that sharing of costumes, props, wigs, makeup, etc., shall be kept to the minimum and persons handling shared equipment shall wear gloves. Make-up artists and hair stylists will use relevant PPE and artistes should be encouraged to do their hair styling and make-up remotely with the help of professionals, as per the guidelines.
Lapel mics shall be avoided and never shared while direct contact with diaphragm of the mics shall be avoided.
A strict physical distancing of six feet shall be adhered to at shoot locations, recording studios, and editing rooms etc. The SOP also suggests that minimum cast and crew shall be present during the shoots.
Aspects such as scenes, sequences, set-ups, camera locations, positions of various crew members, seating arrangements, food and catering arrangements, staggered meal timings should be planned while giving due consideration to physical distancing norms, according to the I&B ministry document.
Visitors and audience should not be allowed on sets and for outdoor shooting, necessary coordination with the local authorities should be ensured to minimise and manage the spectators, says the SOP.
Resting or stay-over facilities should be planned while adhering to physical distancing guidelines, according to the document.
Staggered call and pack-up timings for different production units should be ensured by studios having multiple sets, the SOPs state.
"There shall be designated entry and exit points for all shoot locations and other workplaces," the document said.
Common locations such as sets, cafeteria, make-up rooms, edit rooms, vanity vans, washrooms should be sanitised regularly, it said.
Sanitisation, to the extent possible, before and after the shoot should be done, the SOPs said.
The SOP also stressed that measures for the safety of sanitisation staff such as adequate provisions for rational use of gloves, boots, masks, PPE, should be undertaken.
The document states that as far as possible, the practice of work from home should be followed.
Persons handling or working with common/shared equipment shall wear disposable gloves and efforts should be made to encourage wearing of gloves among other members of the cast and crew as well, they said.
The I&B document also emphasised on the health and family welfare ministry's guiding principles which state that non-essential activities will not be allowed in COVID-19 containment zones.
The guiding principles also said that employees who are at higher risk, such as older employees, pregnant employees, employees who have underlying medical conditions, should take extra precautions.
They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public, according to the health ministry guiding principles.
Shooting for films and TV serials has been suspended for several months since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.
(With Inputs from PTI and IANS)