‘No interruptions’ to Masked Singer despite COVID-19 shutdown

There will be no interruptions to the broadcast schedule of The Masked Singer, according to sources working on the program, despite the reality show suspending filming on Saturday due to a COVID-19 outbreak on set.

The series was shooting its final episode when a crew member returned a positive test, forcing all cast and crew into self-isolation including host Osher Gunsberg and judges Dannii Minogue, Dave Hughes, Jackie O and Urzila Carlson. There are now seven confirmed cases connected to the production, which is filmed in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct.

The Docklands studio that is the centre of the Masked Singer outbreak.Credit:Wayne Taylor

“We were fortunate to have already filmed all the episodes except the finale,” said a Network 10 spokeswoman. Other sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that producers expect to deliver this episode on time.

Because The Masked Singer commenced production prior to Victoria’s current Stage 4 lockdown, it was permitted to continue filming in accordance with state government regulations.

The Masked Singer’s studio will now undergo a deep clean.

Gunsberg also hosts 10’s Bachelor franchise, including a forthcoming season of The Bachelorette currently shooting in Sydney. Typically, the series films at least several weeks in advance and network sources said the on-air schedule would not be affected. Gunsberg must complete two weeks in isolation and pass medical tests before returning to NSW.

Hughes also co-anchors the Hit network’s national drive show Hughesy & Ed while Jackie O presents Kiis FM’s Sydney breakfast show with Kyle Sandilands. Both have been given special equipment to allow them to continue broadcasting while in self-isolation.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the infections linked to The Masked Singer prove that outbreaks may occur even when COVID-safe work plans are enacted.

Mr Andrews said it was not his personal decision to grant [producers] an exemption to continue filming, and that more outbreaks will likely occur even after the government eases restrictions.

Those outbreaks would need to be kept to a minimum to give health authorities confidence they can be quickly contained, Mr Andrews said.

“If [production of the program] weren’t to continue, then the whole thing would basically fall over and would be lost to Victoria,” he said. “It’s done on a case-by-case basis and it’s always done with a COVID-safe plan.

“I’m not pleased to make the point, but it does make the point that this is a widely infectious virus and even if you’ve got the very best processes in place you’ll see positive cases.”

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor, Professor Brett Sutton, said television was deemed an essential sector – and The Masked Singer outbreak did not necessarily point to any misbehaviour.

Speaking generally about what may cause workplace outbreaks, Professor Sutton said: “People are not necessarily wearing masks if their work doesn’t allow them to have them, and might be in closer proximity because of the nature of the work … that’s one of the issues in meatworks. It can be an issue in other industries.”

Network 10’s spokeswoman said that all cast and crew are being monitored closely and are in constant contact with medical authorities.

Sources said the production has a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan and is compliant with all state and federal government requirements. These include daily temperature checks and written health declarations upon arrival and departure from the studio, mandatory face masks disposed of in special bins, strict hygiene protocols, a special safety induction for all staff, and a dedicated COVID-19 manager.

“The health and safety of the community, and our staff and production partners is our number one priority,” Network 10’s spokeswoman said. “Network 10 is working closely with the Victorian Government and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services… and providing all crew with all the support and assistance possible.”

A spokeswoman from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said: “Late yesterday, the department was notified of seven cases linked to the set of The Masked Singer television show in Docklands. It’s believed a member of staff developed symptoms while on set on Friday and was sent to be tested. The staff member did not return to set."

Early investigations determined that the site should close immediately and all who had been on site since Wednesday should isolate.

“The department is liaising with the production company and site management to ensure all appropriate public health actions are taken including cleaning and contact tracing.”

correction

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported six new infections linked to The Masked Singer; in fact, the total number of confirmed cases remains at seven.

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