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Kissing, touching banned as iconic Australia soap opera resumes production

The long-running Australian soap opera “Neighbours” returned from a three-week production break on Monday and plans to resume full production next week with new coronavirus safeguards.

“Neighbours” production company Fremantle Australia says in a statement on Monday it is one of the few TV dramas in the English-speaking world to resume production during the pandemic.

“Neighbours” is Australia’s longest-running TV series, first screening in 1985. It has been sold to more than 60 countries and has a larger following in Britain than Australia.

Its Melbourne studio will be separated into three scene areas with no crews allowed to cross between the areas, Fremantle said.

“Creative editing will be employed to ensure this has minimal impact on screen,” Fremantle says.

Fremantle expects that if there is a COVID-19 infection on set, contact tracing will be easy due to social distancing measures.

“We’re going to assume if someone does get sick, we don’t have to shut the entire shoot. We just close that group and carry on,” Fremantle chief executive Chris Oliver tells Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Scenes involving kissing and holding hands will not be allowed due to Australian social distancing rules.

Communications and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher welcomes the drama’s continuation.

“I certainly wish them well and there is no doubt that the arts sector has been hit very hard by social distancing,” Fletcher says.

AP

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