LIGHTS, CAMERA, COVID COMPLIANCE: HOW FILM, TV SETS TACKLE PANDEMIC SHOOT SAFETY

Compliance officers police physical distancing, PPE use, temperature checks on set

There's a new job on film and TV sets: COVID-19 compliance officers. They make sure cast and crew are wearing PPE, practise physical distancing and wash their hands. They also conduct screenings, such as temperature checks. (Submitted by Jim Panno)

It’s Josh Van Altenberg’s job to make sure cast and crew are following all the COVID-19 rules on set. So when he saw two people talking close together, he swooped in to remind them to stay apart.

Turns out they were father and son, filming together. Awkward for Van Altenberg, he still had to ask them to physically distance themselves.

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“I had to explain to them when they are in the workplace, they have to demonstrate the proper way to be at all times even though they are in a family bubble,” he said. “The three of us had a good laugh about it.”

Van Altenberg is typically a paramedic on film and TV sets around Toronto. The pandemic has expanded the scope of his job. He’s now also responsible for on set COVID-19 compliance, a crucial new role in the industry.

That means performing temperature checks, enforcing physical distancing, making sure people are wearing proper personal protective equipment, washing hands and sanitizing often — no matter how famous they may be.

“I actually have no fear of having the same conversation with a big name star who’s flown in from L.A. to film a movie as I would a production assistant,” he said.

“COVID doesn’t care what tax bracket we’re in.”

Feels safest on set

On Van Altenberg’s sets, masks are mandatory, even outdoors. Actors are only allowed to take off their masks just before shooting starts, and they go right back on after a scene cuts.

 

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