Cape Town film industry gets the green light to resume under strict COVID-19 guidelines

11 May 2020

By Xolani Koyana

As the film industry prepares to resume some operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Cape Town has developed mandatory operating procedures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus during film productions.

The industry is among a number of sectors that shut down during the start of the nationwide lockdown, forced by the spread of the deadly virus.

After a five-week lockdown, the national government has eased regulations to level 4 – paving the way for some filming to take place.

Recently gazetted regulations by the Department of Communication and Digital Communications state that under level 4, film and television productions using local cast and crew can return to work, subject to adherence to health protocols and to any additional requirements

The revised regulations will also bring some economic relief to ancillary services throughout the value chain of film production. This includes companies involved in equipment rental, catering, transportation, pre and post -production services such as editing, sound, special effects and animators who may work in specialised studios.

Level 4 regulations also allow for productions for local broadcast and live streaming in support of Covid-19 subjects.

Cape Town Standard Operating Procedures

Filming on sets will also be guided by stringent guidelines, part of the permit process, which the City of Cape Town’s permit office has circulate to film producers for comment before final approval.

Some of the highlights of the proposed SOP include:

  • Screening of staff, cast and crew daily at the start of each shift/shoot for symptoms of COVID-19 and recording of the details of their daily temperature.
  • COVID-19 awareness information including workplace protocols should be displayed in common areas and copied to all personnel.
  • Regular disinfection of production sets/workspaces before and after filming
  •  Mandatory cloth masks or face shields for cast and crew.
  •  Number of people on set should not exceed 50 people as directed by the Arts and Culture Minister.
  •  Disinfection of workplace equipment and props before they are returned to storage or service providers.
  • Only permitted people allowed on set.
  • 70 % Alcohol-based hand sanitiser to be made available for all cast, crew and service providers on sets and workspaces.


The City’s Film Permit Office is equipping its staff to effectively handle the incoming permit applications as well as increased monitoring of film sets, production workspaces and other film activities over the coming weeks.

They will be assisted by the City’s law enforcement agencies who are already tasked with enforcing the national state of disaster regulations.

The protocols are in line with the National Department of Health’s Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in the workplace.

In addition, they also take into account the Labour Department-issued directives for employers to follow in the process of returning to work. These include:

  • undertaking a risk assessment and developing implementation for the workplace
  • ensuring the required social distancing in the workplace
  • screening workers at the time that they report for work
  • providing sanitiser, disinfectants and other measures to sanitise work areas
  • providing Personal Protective Equipment including a minimum of two cloth masks for each employee, free of charge