UK Travel Restrictions Now Apply To Film & TV Production Employees

The United Kingdom removed film and television workers from the country's COVID-inspired travel exemption list today, meaning that anyone who travels to the UK from an outside nation will need to quarantine for 10 days or pay for a private test which could shorten that isolation period to five days. Either way, it sounds like it just got more expensive for Hollywood productions to send international employees into the UK to work.

Deadline reports that as of early this morning, two classifications of jobs – television production and high-end television production and film – are now subject to UK travel restrictions. "If you are not exempt, and you arrive in the UK, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days," the government's rules state. "When you arrive in England, you must travel directly to the place you are staying and not leave."

There is a loophole, but naturally, you have to pay for it: through something called the Test to Release scheme, visitors to the UK can "pay for a private coronavirus test after five days and be released from self-isolation early if [they] return a negative result."

While the UK is not experiencing nearly the same number of unnecessary deaths as we are in the United States and vaccinations have begun to roll out in earnest there, COVID-19 is obviously still a hugely dangerous force which continues to reshape how the entertainment industry functions. This latest update applying travel restrictions to film and TV employees who were previously exempt seems destined to directly affect both ongoing productions and ones that were planning to begin filming soon. I imagine there are tons of producers out there who are now frantically scrambling to find local employees instead of using U.S. residents for crew positions, because a decision like this could have an immediate impact on scheduling.

Deadline says these new rules mean producers will need to build extra time into shoots if they're working with folks from outside the UK. That probably won't be a dealbreaker for massive productions like the Star Wars shows or Marvel movies that happen to be in the works there, but smaller productions may end up being thrown into chaos. Safety should be (and should have been) the highest priority since this thing began, but my heart goes out to those who are put in a tough spot because of this. Sort of makes you wonder why film and TV folks were exempt in the first place – especially since I imagine a considerable percentage of them were coming from Los Angeles, one of the biggest COVID hotbeds on the planet.