While COVID-19 initially impacted production in Ontario, film and television production has been permitted to operate under COVID-19 safety protocols outlined in the Section 21 Health and Safety Guidelines since summer 2020. The guidelines were created by the Section 21 Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee, a public and private advisory body to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development pursuant to Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
These enhanced guidelines have proven effective. Between October 2020 and March 2021 studio productions in Ontario administered more than 132,938 PCR tests with an overall positivity rate of 0.06%.
The guidelines provide protocols for all aspects of production including buying, camera operation, construction, food, hair/make-up/wardrobe, locations and studios, performers, post-production, technicians, and transportation, including:
- Productions operate under a COVID-19 safety plan that is reviewed and approved by the Kingston Film Office and KFL&A Public Health
- Dedicated production-assigned COVID safety officer for each production
- COVID-19 testing of cast, crew, and film office staff up to three times weekly
- Medical grade safety equipment including personal protective equipment
- Physical distancing at all times within a zone-based system on set
- Restricted number of performers permitted on set
The province’s three-step Roadmap to Reopening permits film and television production at each step of reopening. Information on the province’s COVID-19 safety programs for the film and television industry can be found at ONreadytoroll.ca.
“We’ve been very limited as to which productions we can allow. Productions must meet the crucial COVID-19 safety requirements, so we’re mostly seeing larger studio productions,” says Alex Jansen, Film Commissioner. “The first notable production to shoot in Kingston under the COVID-19 guidelines was season 2 of Locke and Key last November. More recently, we are hosting productions with Amazon and Paramount.”
Since the Kingston Film Office was established in 2018, the city has increasingly become a sought-after location for film and television production and is projected to see record levels of production this year. It is estimated that film and television production in Kingston will generate a direct spend in the community of upwards of $1,000,000 in 2021.