Australia’s longest-running soap shoots its external scenes in Pin Oak Court in the suburb of Vermont South and its internal scenes at studios in Forest Hill, about 18km east of Melbourne’s CBD.
“Neighbours will continue under its current production model adopted when Stage 3 restrictions were first introduced in Victoria,” the show’s production company Fremantle Australia said in a statement to HuffPost Australia.
“The strict health and safety measures we have adhered to for the past 11 weeks will be maintained, ensuring the well-being of our cast and crew remains intact.”
Since returning to filming in April, the cast and crew have been practising social distancing, with no kissing allowed on set. Instead of extras, crew members have been appearing in the background of scenes.
The cast and crew have been isolated into three distinct groups, while ‘camera trickery’ has made the actors look a lot closer than they are.
“There will be no more than 100 people a day in any area, we’ll implement the four-square-metre rule and the one-and-a-half-metre social distancing rule,” Chris Oliver-Taylor, chief executive of Fremantle Australia told ABC in April.
“We’re going to assume if someone does get sick we don’t need to shut the entire shoot — we just close that group and carry on.”
The TV show won’t be weaving the COVID-19 pandemic into their storyline.
“We’ve debated about whether to incorporate the coronavirus into the narrative. However, we are currently plotting episodes that won’t air until much later in the year, so anything we write now might feel very outdated,” Neighbours’ Executive Producer, Jason Herbison told HuffPost Australia in a statement.
Herbison said the program providing ‘escapism’ to viewers was also a consideration.
“Further to this, there’s a creative question – will our viewers want to switch on Neighbours and relive it again? Or is our job to provide escapism? I tend to feel it’s the latter, however you might see some lingering hints of it the screen.
“As if the virus might have somehow passed by our fictional world and our characters have adopted some of the habits and precautions, such as around hygiene.”
Lockdown measures were announced in Melbourne on Tuesday, confining residents to their homes unless undertaking essential business for six weeks, as officials scramble to to contain a coronavirus outbreak.
The decision, which affects around 4.9 million people, was announced just hours before the busy border between Victoria and New South Wales is scheduled to close for the first time in a century.
From midnight on Wednesday, everyone in Melbourne will be required to stay home unless travelling to work, studying, shopping for food or attending medical appointments.
Restaurants, cafes and bars will be able to provide takeaway service only, gyms and hair salons will be closed, household gatherings limited to two people and the current school vacation will be extended.
Victoria was responsible for 191 of the 199 new cases reported nationally on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since early April. The spike has worried officials, even though the national total of almost 8,800 cases and 106 deaths is far below many other countries.
With additional reporting by Reuters.