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Introduction

The creative industries has been one of the fastest growing parts of the Welsh economy for a number of years. The sector doesn’t just create jobs and wealth – it contributes to a strong national brand and helps to promote Wales and its culture and talent to the world. A creative society in its widest sense promotes well-being and a more inclusive society.

This document offers high-level guidance for organisations operating in the creative industries in Wales. 

Emerging from lockdown successfully requires a vigorous approach to finding common solutions that control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as part of a collective effort towards managing risk. As the First Minister of Wales stated in Leading Wales out of the Coronavirus Pandemic – a framework for recovery, relaxing the current lockdown should not cause further harm.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees. This guidance does not repeat the guidance already available, but signposts to that guidance and to specific advice for key sub-sectors.

The Welsh Ministers must review the need for the requirements and restrictions in the Coronavirus Regulations every 21 days.  The latest evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales says while the first peak of infection has passed and rates continue to fall, it is still too early for a significant lifting of requirements or restrictions.

Even when the restrictions are lifted, you should only restart activities when you feel able to do so safely. It is also for each employer to decide when it is the appropriate time to return workers to work from the Coronavirus Government Job Retention (‘furlough’) scheme.

It is an expectation that each organisation will apply detailed and bespoke solutions that focus on safeguarding all workers and the public, and will give due consideration to the local communities in which they exist and operate. Plans should be proportionate, should be reviewed regularly, and must offer a careful, phased approach to resuming activity. Organisations should also focus on creating agile solutions that can be paused or rapidly reversed in the event of further COVID-19 outbreaks.

Public and worker confidence will be key in supporting a successful and commercially viable return to business, and therefore a careful, coherent process of emerging from lockdown is essential.

This guidance reflects a continuing conversation between Welsh Government and the sector, as outlined in the First Minister’s ‘Unlocking our Society and Economy’ roadmap.  The Welsh Government welcomes the opportunity to discuss the sector’s responses to this guidance, and to understand the individual challenges faced by sector partners.

Coronavirus Regulations

To tackle the spread of coronavirus, the Welsh Government introduced regulations (“the Coronavirus Regulations”) in March which imposed strict restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people and the operation of businesses, including closures in Wales. The Welsh Government is now following a cautious approach to easing this lockdown and re-opening work places.

This prioritises protecting people by controlling the spread of coronavirus now so that together we can build back better.

The framework for easing lockdown, including reopening businesses and workplaces was published in Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation where a Red-Amber-Green traffic light system defines the stages for how restrictions in different areas of life in Wales may be gradually eased and lifted.

In these difficult times the safety, health and wellbeing of everyone is of paramount importance to us. We have produced this guidance to help employers and employees in the creative industry sector understand what we believe is important and how everyone should approach the shared endeavour of safe work.

This guidance does not replace legislation and statutory guidance, nor should it be considered a substitute for legal advice, which employers and employees should consider obtaining where necessary.

We have published guidance and a set of frequently asked questions to support any amendments.

The Coronavirus Regulations were last amended on May 29th and came into effect on 1 June 2020.

Working within public health regulations and guidelines

It is a legal requirement that all reasonable actions will have been taken in order to minimise transmission of Coronavirus in the workplace. The Welsh Government has issued guidance on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, and also guidance for employers and employees on keeping safe in the workplace. The work place guidance will be an essential tool as you being to resume activity, and includes information on key issues such as risk assessment, communication, signage and arrangements for visitors.

All reasonable measures must be taken to maintain a two metre distance between individuals in the workplace. The guidance above will help when considering the measures needed to reduce infection transmission rates at work.  All activity should be consistent with the Welsh Government’s guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene.

Anyone working in the creative industries who has tested positive for COVID-19 must not work at their place of work, although they can work from home if they are able to.  Anyone who feels unwell and displays symptoms of Coronavirus, should immediately self-isolate (as well as their household), follow the Welsh Government’s self-isolation guidelines, and apply for a Coronavirus test.  This includes anyone who has:

You should follow Welsh Government guidance should anyone in the workplace display symptoms of Coronavirus and isolate the person, make arrangements to remove them to their home or a clinical facility if needed, and arrange suitable decontamination of their work space and any other areas they may have accessed e.g. toilet area.

Those working in the creative industries that are deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’ on medical grounds should continue to follow Welsh Government advice. This currently includes maintaining ‘shielding’.

It is essential that good hygiene practices are in place in workplaces in the creative industries, that equipment is disinfected regularly, and that it is made clear to employees that anyone who is symptomatic - or suspects they may have been exposed to the virus - does not come into work, or should work from home if that is possible.

The Welsh Government has published guidance to help employers understand their responsibilities and to allow workplaces to operate as safely as possible as well as guidance on employers' responsibilities to help with Coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Face coverings

The Welsh Government has published guidance on face coverings and Coronavirus. This covers how and when you could wear a face covering to protect those around you, if you choose to wear one.

Keeping the workplace clean

Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit Coronavirus transmission. It is advised that touch points (e.g. door handles, desks, specialist equipment) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning.

Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products, is advised. As is clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from work areas at the end of shifts.

To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to:

  • ensuring handwashing facilities that provide running water, automatic soap dispensers and paper towels;
  • using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm;
  • providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards;
  • providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms;
  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, showers and changing facilities to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible;
  • enhancing cleaning for busy areas;
  • providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection;
  • replacing hand dryers with paper towels in handwashing facilities;
  • minimising use of portable toilets;
  • setting clear guidance on how to handle goods, merchandise and materials.

Test, Trace, Protect 

Test, Trace, Protect is the Welsh Government’s strategy for testing the general public and tracing the spread of the coronavirus in Wales.  The strategy provides information on implementing an appropriate and thorough record-keeping system to support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy in terms of workers to ensure they can be traced, contacted, advised to self-isolate and tested accordingly for Coronavirus in the event of them working at the same time as an individual, or staff member, who has since tested positive for Coronavirus.  

Employers will need to ensure that workers are duly advised (verbally by phone, or via a website or on-line booking system) of the need and reasons under GDPR rules for their personal information to be retained, and the duration required, to support the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy. 

The Health and Safety Executive has also produced a series of guidance documents that will be helpful to support safe working environments in the creative industries:

Developing a collaborative phased return and guidance for resuming activity in the creative industries

Early engagement with the creative industries sector has been essential to understand when it might be safe and practical to resume activity. Working together, the sector is identifying a basic framework for a phased return guided by the Welsh Government’s ‘Unlocking our Society and Economy’ roadmap.

Resuming activity in the creative industries can only be possible when permitted by the Coronavirus Regulations, and we suggest you give due consideration to relevant industry guidelines as well. A summary of the latest Coronavirus Regulations and accompanying guidelines and live links are provided in section 2. Information on industry guidance published and in development is also set out later in this section.

This guidance should also be considered in the context of other provisions in the Coronavirus Regulations, (such as those relating to travel and education and childcare), and guidance in other areas of life where there are key interdependencies that will affect the way we move forward.

This document includes links to guidance produced by industry bodies at a UK level. These provide advice on the law as it applies in England. When using these resources to support activity in Wales it is essential that they considered in the context to the law as it applies in Wales and that you familiarise yourself with the Welsh Regulations. 

The timing and extent of resuming activity will vary as we progress through the phases for moving out of lockdown. However, the message is clear: some activities - due to the limitations posed by physical distancing - lend themselves to resuming activity earlier than others. The specific section of the ‘roadmap’ document on ‘Working or running a business’ is particularly relevant to the creative industries:

  • Lockdown: Stay at home and only leave the house for essential purposes
  • Red: Film and TV production activity.  Virtual activity in the music sector. Continuation of activity in the digital sector.
  • Amber: Widening of production activity and events with limited audience numbers in the music and publishing sectors. Opening of book shops in line with Welsh Government plan for reopening non-essential retail.
  • Green: Most activities resuming with precautions in place. 

The sections on ‘getting around’, exercise and working or running a business are also relevant for those organisations operating in the creative industries.

Since the publication of the roadmap, the sector has continued to develop a joined-up approach. This has culminated in the establishment of stakeholder groups for the following sub-sectors:

  • screen (Film and TV production)
  • digital
  • music

In addition, the Creative Wales team has sought the views of the Books Council of Wales on opportunities to resume activity and support recovery in the publishing sector.

For each specialist area, consideration has been given to developing an approach for a phased return to activity and opportunities that can be presented to the Welsh Government as part of each 21 day review. Many of the issues are shared across the sector. However, there are also a number of issues and challenges that are very specific to each of the areas identified.

The following section provides a summary of the current situation in Welsh Government’s four creative industries priority sectors, and work undertaken to develop guidance to support a safe and practical resuming of activity.

Screen

Current situation and key issues

The Coronavirus Regulations do not specifically prohibit film and TV production.  However, measures introduced to minimise the spread of the virus in Wales to protect the NHS and save lives, including physical distancing rules, travel, closing of locations, hospitality etc. have made continuing activity difficult.  As we begin to emerge from lockdown and restrictions are eased cautiously, working practices will need to be adapted to ensure activity can restart in a safe and compliant manner.

To confirm, filming can continue in Wales providing there is full compliance with Welsh law. Appropriate Welsh Government COVID-related guidance documents  should also be followed.  This includes a legal obligation and guidance on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, compliance with relevant industry guidelines for physical production and receipt of any permissions needed from the local authority and / or land owners in which filming would take place. 

Any filming that cannot be done in accordance with guidance should be discussed with Creative Wales in the first instance.

The Welsh Government has been working closely with the screen sector to understand how different types of productions can comply with the physical distancing duty in place in Wales and support safe ways to return to work, and work is underway across the sector to develop guidance that will support safe return to production activity.  These will support the re-introduction of TV and film production activity in Wales that has the potential to operate in line with existing restrictions, together with supply chain activity such as post production and VFX.

Work is also underway to ensure training is available to provide workers and crew with the necessary skills to operate in the context of the Coronavirus Regulations.  These courses will help to ensure all those working in the screen industry, irrespective of their role, are aware of the risk of COVID-19 and how it is transmitted, and how to protect themselves, their co-workers and the working environment. This includes training on health and safety, mental health, observing the social distancing requirements and good hand hygiene practises, and changes to working practices.

In addition, consideration is being given to the issue of insurance and any action that should be taken to address this significant barrier to film and TV production.

The Welsh Government recognises that many businesses in the creative industry sector will operate around the UK, and that there are a number of differences in the laws across the UK that businesses will have to consider.  In response to this, further information on the issue of key worker status, travel, accommodation and physical distancing is set out below:

Key (critical) worker status

  • A key worker or critical worker is a worker who is considered to provide an essential service or whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response. The term does not have general application but is used in specific circumstances to recognise where a worker should have access to specific entitlements, for example access to childcare and test eligibility.

The full list of key or critical workers in Wales can be found in the relevant WG guidance documents (links included above).  In the context of journalists and broadcast media, key (critical) workers are journalists and broadcasters covering coronavirus or providing public service broadcasting.

Travel

Welsh law provides that if it is not reasonably practicable for you to work from home you can travel for work. The distance you need to travel for work should be essential to that work and minimised as much as possible, however, there is no definite limit on the distance. Where it is necessary for your work, workers can travel across borders in the UK. Guidance on travelling safely during the coronavirus pandemic is available on the Welsh Government website.

People arriving in Wales from outside the UK or Ireland on or after 8 June 2020, are not allowed to leave the place they’re staying for the first 14 days in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’). This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear

Some of those travellers are exempt – please see the following Welsh Government guidance

This includes:        

  • people who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week
  • people who live in another country but work in the UK, and usually travel between the UK and the country to which they usually reside at least once a week; and
  • people engaged in urgent or essential work for the BBC’s broadcasting transmission network and services

Accommodation

Under Welsh law holiday accommodation businesses can open for any purpose if requested to do so by the Welsh Ministers or a local authority. Please see the Welsh Government guidance note to holiday accommodation owners: the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment ) Regulations 2020. The guidance anticipates the purposes for which requests could be made which includes accommodating key workers. 

Decisions on reopening holiday accommodation for specific purposes are generally made by local authorities. However, the Welsh Government expects a consistent application across Wales, recognising the need to balance economic and health and safety objectives.

Physical distancing

Welsh law requires all reasonable measures to be taken to maintain physical distancing (staying 2m apart) while working. Welsh Government guidance on this requirement acknowledges that ‘there are working environments where physical distancing is not possible – and in consequence there may be circumstances where few or even no reasonable measures can be taken. For example, in relation to the provision of public facing essential services (including operation and maintenance of Critical National Infrastructure), factory settings, construction sites, the provision of health and social care services and the production and distribution of food’. This isn’t an exhaustive list.

This means that for a drama production all reasonable measures must be taken to ensure physical distancing wherever possible e.g. smaller crew, changes to layout, use of technology and plot changes. However, work can continue despite there being some situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained e.g. hair and make-up, key scenes essential to integrity of the plot. If possible other measures should be introduced to mitigate risks associated with close physical presence e.g. increased hygiene measures and provision of adequate supplies of hygiene products (automatic soap dispensers, paper tissues instead of towels, hand sanitisers etc.), use of personal protective equipment where possible and practical to do so (e.g. face coverings), testing of relevant cast and crew, minimising the time spent where physical distance cannot be maintained. Creative Wales recommend that a record be kept of all reasonable measures that have been considered and taken.

The Welsh Government recognises that the impact on the Covid-19 pandemic has been felt right across the screen sector, not just in relation to physical production activity.  The business model in its entirety is being significantly challenged. The closing of cinemas has had a fundamental effect on distribution routes and pipelines to exploitation have largely been halted. Separate advice has been introduced in relation to the safe re-opening of cinemas, this is contained in the WG guidance.

There are also significant costs associated with the need to incorporate stricter health and safety practices which will have to be met by companies who are already struggling with cash flow. In addition, restrictions impacting on the wider supply chain are having a knock-on impact in the screen sector. Creative Wales is continuing to work with stakeholders to identify these issues and identify opportunities to support the sector in response.

Guidance

Industry guidelines for safe TV production from broadcasters - new industry guidance, produced in collaboration between broadcasters, industry experts and safety consultants, has been published, setting out steps for a safe return to television production.

British Film Commission (BFC) industry-wide safety protocols - the BFC has published industry-wide safety protocols specifically for physical production in Film and High-End TV Drama. The ‘Film and High-End TV Drama Production Guidance (Coronavirus COVID-19)’ has been produced as part of the wider BFI Screen Sector Covid-19 Task Force recovery initiatives, and is designed to keep sets safe from coronavirus by introducing measures including pre-shoot safety training, testing and quarantining foreign actors.  They are designed to be scalable for productions of different sizes and can be used alongside company-specific protocols. 

UK Screen Alliance guidance for the Visual Effects (VFX) and Post-Production - UK Screen Alliance has published its COVID-19 Guidance for safe working for the Visual Effects (VFX) and Post-Production community, documenting best working practices already in use, as Post and VFX has remained open for business during the pandemic. This guidance aims to provide a framework for companies as they transition back to on-premises working, whilst ensuring the safety of their workers, contractors, and clients. 

Bectu Film and TV Recovery Plan - Bectu has been working on detailed guidance on its definition of safe-working practices should there be a return to work in the context of physical distancing rules. Hundreds of Bectu Representatives have contributed to the document, representing approximately 15,000 members working in the UK film and TV sector.  It contains detailed guidance on specific departmental work as well as an overview of industry practices.

Advertising Producers Association (APA) Covid-19 Shooting Guidelines - the purpose of the guidelines is to enable production companies to take reasonable and practical steps to safeguard the health and safety of everyone attending a film shoot in relation to Covid-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Awareness on Production - ScreenSkills has introduced an online Coronavirus (COVID-19) Awareness on Production course.

Digital

Current situation and key issues

The digital sector is playing a key role in the response to the Covid-19 crisis. Digital technologies and businesses are supporting home working and education, critical infrastructure, enabling interactions and connections in a physical distancing context and are at the forefront of efforts to detect, track and find a treatment for the virus.

Whilst some companies have continued to work largely unaffected by the constraints of traditional content production dependent on outside shooting, for example animation and gaming, the industry is in some cases deeply affected by the crisis. Remote working, already a strongly favoured approach for digital technologists, has worked well for many in the sector, and will no doubt be a template for future working

As the majority of this sector’s work is office based, there is no specific industry guidance in circulation for these businesses (other than where they are involved in the filming of content and / or covering post production / VFX already covered in the Film & TV section).

Guidance for offices and contact centres - the Welsh Government has published guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.

Music

Current situation and key issues

The Coronavirus Regulations impose a number of restrictions on businesses and other services, including music venues.  These are continually reviewed as we gradually unlock Wales’s economy and there is a full list of businesses and premises that must currently remain closed in Wales as a result of the coronavirus.

If you are permitted to operate your business you must do so safely in a way that complies with any restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus Regulations, in addition to other legal obligations imposed on employers (such as health and safety legislation).

In the UK Government document ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’, the reopening of leisure facilities in England forms part of step three of the plan, which will be introduced in England no earlier than 4 July 2020.

Creative Wales is working very closely in collaboration with the music industry through the recently established stakeholder group representing all areas of the industry. That group has been extremely helpful in establishing a consensus view that the industry recognises it is likely to be one of the very last sectors that is able to return to any form of normal activity. The sector is clear on the need for a long-term strategy for its survival, to address the impact of loss of earnings for a sustained period and to broaden on line training and tools.  There is also recognition of the possible impact of ‘audience confidence’ even when restrictions are eased and venues are able to open.

There have been discussions around virtual festivals and other events such as drive in concerts where artists perform on stage together, once rules allow, and audiences safely distance by remaining in vehicles and/or watch from home. Many in the industry have expressed their concerns about the commercial viability of these type of events but it would provide work for those in the live music industry such as stage, PA hire and backstage freelancers.

Guidance

Reopen Every Venue Safely (REVS) - the Music Venue Trust is taking the lead on an initiative called REVS, a phased series of interactions between Government, Music Venue Trust and grassroots music venues exploring options for allowing safe reopening of venues in the future.

BEIS guidance for Pubs and Bars - The Department for Business, Energy and Industries Strategy is developing guidance for Pubs & Bars.

Publishing

Current situation and key issues

The Coronavirus Regulations impose a number of restrictions on businesses and other services, including book shops.  These are continually reviewed as we gradually unlock Wales’s economy and there is a full list of businesses and premises that must currently remain closed in Wales as a result of the coronavirus.

The Coronavirus Regulations permit online retail activity and do not require the closure of storage or distribution facilities.

Following the latest review of the Coronavirus Regulations on May 28th the First Minister signalled that non-essential retail businesses, which can comply with the physical distancing duty, should start to prepare to reopen over the next 3 weeks. A decision about whether non-essential retail will reopen will be taken at the next review on 18 June and will depend on the scientific and medical evidence.

The Welsh Government is working with the Books Council of Wales to ensure guidance is available to support book shops to reopen safely in line with this timetable and the Books Council of Wales is engaging with publishers on the logistical adjustments that will be needed to support shops, for example through publishing schedules, deliveries and marketing.    

The Books Council of Wales is also developing bilingual signage that can be used by book shops in Wales to present information, raise awareness and promote site safety and good hygiene and comply with the physical distancing duty. In addition, the Books Council of Wales is working with the industry to identify suitable suppliers of hygiene and protection equipment.

In addition, guidance has been issued from the Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland (BA) to its members, providing a guide for what should be considered as owners begin to consider re-opening their book stores.

Further guidance is available for other sectors of the economy that will support the safe reopening of book shops. Easing of measures or developments in other areas essential to the publishing supply chain, for example schools and libraries, will also have a significant impact on the publishing sector.

Guidance

Retailers: coronavirus workplace guidance - the Welsh Government has published guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

Guidance for factories, plants and warehouses - the UK Government has published guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.

Booksellers Association of UK and Ireland links to coronavirus resources - the Booksellers Association of UK and Ireland has set out a range of resources for retailers regarding the developing situation on Covid-19.

Guide to physical distancing on reopening for bookshops

Effective communications

Organisations will need to communicate clearly and regularly the steps they are taking to manage risk and what advice they are giving to their workers and suppliers.

This should include:

  • complying with the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy and informing workers of the need and reasons under GDPR rules for their personal information to be retained, and the duration required, to support this strategy 
  • regular use of messaging and signage around the workplace to support safe working practices including physical distancing and action to take if feeling unwell and good hygiene
  • engaging with workers directly and also through unions to quickly explain and agree any changes in working arrangements
  • clear and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of how ways of working are applied
  • communication and training materials on new procedures. Consideration of how these materials are delivered, including online to maintain physical distancing between workers
  • awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty

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