Set of Hudson & Rex pauses production over COVID-19 testing concerns
'Error in judgment' says crime drama producer in email to cast and crew
CityTV's Hudson & Rex stopped filming for three hours Monday, after concerns were raised by St. John's crew members over a delay in COVID-19 test results for production members from outside Newfoundland and Labrador.
Producer Paul Pope told CBC News COVID-19 tests are a diagnostic tool, not a condition of work, for the crime drama, which is in its third season of filming in St. John's.
"But it's a standard that is a high standard for us, that the person who is taking the test has passed it," Pope said.
"In this particular instance, for reasons that won't happen again, there was a delay in that part of it, and when it became clear we just remedied it."
In an email to cast and crew Monday, obtained by CBC News, Pope apologized for an "oversight in COVID-19 testing for our come from away cast."
"We believed that we were operating safely under the provincial COVID-19 guidelines, but now realize that it was an error in judgment," he wrote, adding that it wouldn't happen again.
Pope said working through COVID-19 has come with a learning curve. About six people per episode, different personnel each time, make the trip from outside the province for filming. The majority of the cast and crew, about 190 people, are from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Outside cast and crew quarantine at a hotel in St. John's that is closed to the public. Pope said the testing is not a requirement of the province, but a rule the production has put in place to ensure everyone on set is safe.
"We do a test, and they have to have a negative result before interacting with any of the crew, or coming onto set, or mixing in," he said.
"We have a very, very strict set of rules that we're constantly figuring out, and now we're into it and that's our world."
The system works
Pope said a result of Monday's pause in production is proof the system Hudson & Rex has in place during the pandemic is working.
He said there was no pushback from management to carry on with production after health and safety concerns were raised by staff.
"This is what the system is for, to get people to say, 'We're not doing this so we got to pause and close it down,' and we'll go, 'OK,'" said Pope. "It's only a TV show. This is the world we're in now."
He said the production has zero tolerance for taking risks, and cast and crew members raising any concern is an important part of continuing production during the pandemic.
"Hudson and Rex COVID procedures are probably the most rigid in the country," he said. "We encourage an open and frank discussion among the crew."
Filming resumed shortly after the three-hour pause and all concerns were rectified, Pope said.
But he expects new challenges will present themselves in the future as the television business — much like other industries — learns to react and adapt to the pandemic's constantly changing landscape.
"It's a complicated business, and I'm sure other businesses are going to face the same thing. It's a brave new world and we're all on the same team to make it work," he said.
"But, I mean, we're back shooting, the problem has been rectified and in a couple of weeks' time maybe there will be something different that we'll learn and we'll solve that one."