TORONTO — Production is still underway on “Big Brother Canada” despite the global COVID-19 crisis.
But Corus Entertainment and Insight Productions say contrary to rumours, the sequestered contestants on the hit reality series have been informed about the pandemic situation and have all chosen to remain on the show.
The companies add the Toronto-shot series eliminated its live studio audience as of last Thursday and heightened on-site sanitation and other precautionary safety measures.
“As part of the production’s precautionary measures, the houseguests have been provided a thorough update on the domestic and international status of COVID-19 along with an update that all houseguests’ family members remain unaffected by COVID-19 at this time,” Insight Productions said Monday in a statement.
“In addition to having been in isolation for more than three weeks, the production has a resident doctor who has assessed and determined that no houseguests have exhibited any signs or symptoms related to COVID-19.”
The eighth season of “Big Brother Canada” debuted with 16 Canadian contestants March 4 on Global — before the virus outbreak was declared a pandemic.
The series unfolds in real-time and sees contestants living together in a camera-filled house with no exposure to the outside world.
They compete in mental/physical challenges for a chance to win a grand prize of $100,000.
The winner also gets $10,000 worth of groceries courtesy of Summer Fresh, and a vacation for two anywhere in the world from Expedia.
“In light of the extremely unique situation regarding COVID-19, the houseguests were each provided a letter from home and remain in the ‘Big Brother’ house at their own will,” said Insight.
“The houseguests will continue to be monitored and updated on the situation, in addition to other precautionary measures including further sanitization of all set pieces and limiting movements of crew on location.”
On Monday, The Guardian published a story saying contestants on the German version of “Big Brother” currently in production were unaware of the COVID-19 situation. That sparked a flood of posts on social media speculating that contestants on other incarnations of the franchise, including the Canadian one, were also unaware.
But Corus said that isn’t true when it comes to the homegrown version.
This season of “Big Brother Canada” is an extended one, lasting two extra weeks. Its finale is currently scheduled to air Thurs., May 21.
Corus stressed “There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on any” of its original productions.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press