Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette is going to be vastly different from any other season in the show’s history for a couple of reasons. But one of them is that it was filmed amid the coronavirus pandemic. When much of life is still on hold, how did The Bachelorette continue production safely? Rob Mills, ABC Entertainment’s senior vice president of alternative series, has the answer.
How ‘The Bachelorette’ cast and crew stayed safe filming
In the age of social distancing, Mills says The Bachelorette contestants will not be staying six feet apart. As per usual, everyone will be getting up close and personal this season.
“Everyone was tested, so they could do everything they’d do on a normal season, like kissing and hugging and everything else,” he told Variety on Oct. 13. “It will be acknowledged at the start, in terms of what everybody had to do — they had to quarantine and get tested — but then once you’re in the bubble, you’re in. There won’t be travel, but it looks like a regular season. It’s not socially distanced in any way, shape, or form.”
In terms of the safety precautions taken, Mills spoke about “regular testing” and mask-wearing.
“There was regular testing — the full nasal test — and you’re living in a fake city where everybody has tested negative for COVID-19, but you still were not able to act normally, so you acted as if you didn’t know that everyone had tested negative,” he said. “Nothing was left to chance here. The control room was not very full, but in the control room, you had to wear N95 masks.”
Craft services looked a little different, too.
“One person was handing food to you,” he told the publication. “You could not touch anything. We learned so much from hand washing, to making sure you weren’t in contact with anyone. The crew was seated at long tables with one person at each end socially distanced, so when you ate meals, you didn’t sit directly with someone.”
With all the precautions, Mills said he couldn’t help but feel safe on set.
“You certainly felt safe,” he said. “There was no room for error. You have to really have the conviction that nobody is going to get sick there, and that was taken so seriously. There was a document that was 40 pages long that had every single answer for everything. The testing was so maniacal and everyone was being so careful.”
If someone left the set (like Chris Harrison), they had to re-quarantine
The cast and crew were at the resort from June until the beginning of September. If anyone left during that time, they “had to come back and re-quarantine. The quarantining was really strict.”
Bachelorette fans might remember JoJo Fletcher making headlines when she filled in for Chris Harrison during filming for the most recent season. The host left set to drop his son off at college. When he returned, he had to get tested and re-quarantine.
“[Chris Harrison] was thrilled to come back and re-quarantine and have JoJo [Fletcher] fill in for him, and he had a negative test and we had a successful rest of the shoot,” said Mills. “You only get one chance to move your son into college — and graduation didn’t happen for his son, so this was very important, and we were thrilled for him to do it.”
While filming The Bachelorette certainly looked a lot different this year, Mills says there were some unintentional positives to come out of the situation.
“It allowed us to get more creative,” he said. “I also think it kept people more focused. Without travel time and time zone changes, the guys who really wanted to be there for the right reasons were able to focus and figure themselves out, as well as their chemistry with the lead. There is something to be said here because the guys were really focused on the task at hand, which is Clare.”
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