The U.K. has announced that most entertainment industry jobs no longer qualify for an exemption to COVID-19 rules and people will now need to follow all the guidelines issued by the government if they need to work in the region.
According to the new rules, people traveling to the country for work purposes must self-isolate for 10 days after providing a COVID-19 negative test to the authorities, a statement issued by the British Film Commission (BFC) said. The U.K. government made the decision after seeing a surge in infections due to the new strain of the coronavirus.
"From 4 A.M. GMT Monday 18 January 2021, the HETV [high-end TV] and Film Travel Self-isolation 'Quarantine' Exemption, along with other screen exemptions and Travel Corridors, has been suspended for at least one month," the organization said on its official website.
The previously exempted job categories that now have to follow these rules include performing arts professionals, advertising productions, TV production and high-end TV production and film. The changes will be reviewed once more on Feb. 15.
Speaking about the changes, Andrew Wootton, chief executive of BFC and Film London, told Screen Daily that the organization had no prior notice that the government would come out with the changes in the regulations.
"I understand filmmakers being frustrated that they are having to revise their arrangements. We are sympathetic to that, and we'll do everything we can to support them and explain exactly what the situation is and how they can work with it," Screen Daily quoted Wootton as saying.
However, authorities believe that the changes are necessary for the country amid the global health crisis that has taken more than 90,000 lives in the U.K.
"We understand that these changes will come as a disappointment to the sectors involved. However it is important we take action in the interest of public health," a government spokesperson told Screen Daily.
The recent changes come after more than 40 leading U.K. filmmakers wrote a letter to the government asking for financial assistance for the region's film sector. The letter explained that movie theaters in the U.K. "stand on the edge of an abyss" due to the devastating impact of the pandemic on the entertainment industry.
"There is no doubt that if supported to survive, the sector will recover and once again thrive. But the need for direct financial support is pressing. We recognize the support that the government has already been able to provide. But we fear that this will not be enough," the letter stated.
Notable figures who signed the letter include Christopher Nolan, Barbara Broccoli, Danny Boyle, Sam Mendes, Steve McQueen, Emma Thomas, Edgar Wright, Joe Wright, Gurinder Chadha, Asif Kapadia, Andrea Arnold and more.
The U.K. witnessed 33,355 COVID-19 cases and 1,610 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking its death tally to 91,470.