This resource highlights new standards for enhanced sanitation and safety of film production settings in Mexico during the current COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on recommended industry-specific hygiene and disinfection protocols as they pertain to the production workplace.
As this health crisis is an evolving situation across the world, the recommendations for working and filming in Mexico will likewise change over time. For that reason, this set of guidelines will be a dynamic document which reflects “best practices” at the time of publishing.
The most effective way to create CDC-compliant work settings for filming in Mexico is through extensive pre-production planning so that departments are prepared to work sequentially and with generally leaner crews. Operating responsibly with an absolute commitment to set-wide compliance will minimize the risk of COVID-19, though that may mean that the implementation of these precautions will look different from project to project. If you have specific questions in relation to this, please reach out and we’ll do our best to give you an answer.
DISCLAIMER: This information has been collected from various government and industry resources in order to provide an accurate representation of the film production landscape and applicable rules and recommendations as of May 2020. Given the rapidity with which health conditions and guidelines may change, the publisher cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information provided below nor guarantee that the production safety details are complete, accurate and current. All information provided is subject to modification, error or omission.
People are to maintain a social distance of six feet (two meters) while working.
For interior shoots, the maximum number of cast and crew recommended at any one time is based on the size of accessible space. Each person should have the ability to distance themselves by 6 feet in all directions.
50 people is currently the recommended maximum number of people allowed on set.
PPE, along with appropriate training for use and disposal, shall be made available to all crew members upon request.
Washing Stations: Hand-washing stations and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to be made available at points of entry, common areas, and dining areas.
Masks & Gloves: Masks are advised for all people on set. Additionally, wearing gloves reduces risks of infection; the CDC advises their use when cleaning, picking up food, and interacting with people.
Frequently disinfection (multiple times per day) is recommended with an emphasis on hard non-porous surfaces including, but not limited to, work stations, door handles, public bathrooms, keyboards, vending machines, dining surfaces, seating areas, stair handrails, and any production equipment touched by more than one person. Any workstation used by more than one person should be cleaned between each use. Shared equipment and tools should be disinfected after each shift. Production will establish sanitation procedures for the disposal of all used cleaning material and PPE.
OSHA guidance regarding COVID-19 workplace protocols recommends that, whenever possible, work should be coordinated in such a way to minimize the number of people given access to a space at any one time. Agency and clients are likewise encouraged to send the fewest possible number of representatives.
Staggered shifts or the use of technology to reduce direct contact between departments and crew is encouraged, where feasible. Example: electrical should not start work until art department has finished and exited the space.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Anyone exhibiting mild or severe symptoms of COVID-19 should be refused entry to set. In the event of a presumptive case of COVID-19 on set, the affected person should be removed from set and quarantined.
Production should inform crew in case a person is discovered to have COVID-19 and inform any persons inside and outside of the production that may have come into contact with said individual.
Production Housing: Accommodations should be deep-cleaned and sanitized prior to arrivals. Low-contact or contactless check-in to private accommodations is recommended. As per AHLA COVID-19 standards, reduced housekeeping service will minimize unnecessary exposure. Contactless room service options can be provided.
Ground Transportation: Drivers should disinfect their vehicle after every individual transport of crew or cast persons. Passengers shall wear masks and gloves and observe social distancing measures within the vehicle(s).
Call times should be staggered to prevent crowding upon arrival to set, which can be accomplished by creating tiered arrival and departure intervals for each department.
As most production employees are expected to travel to set by private car or crew transportation provided by production, anti-congestion measures should be incorporated into traffic flow patterns as well.
Production should prioritize ventilation of all interior spaces either by means of open windows or mechanical ventilation to minimize the risk of infection due to aerosolized particles.
Printed signage regarding the risk of spreading COVID-19, preventative measures, and the behavior expected from everyone on set is to be posted in common areas.
Testing and Screening
It is advised that cast and crews are tested prior to the start of work, and that sets to be closed to non-production personnel who have not been tested and screened.
Daily thermal or temperature screening is recommended for admission to set.
Production approval for any non-production personnel is advised along with verification of a negative result from SARS-CoV2 (PCR) testing within the previous week before being allowed on set.
Compliant Scene Recommendations
For obvious reasons, crowd scenes where social distancing measures cannot be implemented safely should be considered off limits as the risk of contagion is high. Digital solutions such as compositing layers of persons and crowd duplication are viable alternatives for filming scenes which call for groups of people (e.g., a concert or athletic event, political rally, church congregation, nightclub).
Smaller group scenes– such as a dinner or a team meeting — are preferable.
Interior and exterior scenes with a larger number of people– such as a street scene with background pedestrians or people spaced around an office– are possible as long as social distancing measures can be upheld. Where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain consistently, masks should be provided for working within that filming space.
If physical contact is required, cast should sanitize before and after contact.
Minimizing Cast Exposure
Casting can be done remotely over video conference or using self-recorded video. Anyone with increased risk of severe illness (i.e. elderly, compromised immunity, cardiac or respiratory conditions) should not be cast for any production.
For family scenes, the use of actual family members is advised whenever possible to minimize physical contact outside of the family unit.
While there are no current restrictions regarding on-screen intimacy, cast safety should be the first priority.
In the event that a scene is being filmed in a small space (under 215 sq feet/20 sq meters), access should be restricted to essential crew only (e.g. director and camera operator).
Production should consider providing remote viewing capabilities for all others.
Filming in public spaces within Mexico is allowed but may require permits.
Hair and Make-Up
Cast members are encouraged to do their own hair and make-up. In the event that hair and make-up artists are needed, these services should be reserved for as few cast members as possible.
Masks are recommended for hair and make-up artists. Both talent and make-up artists should wash or sanitize their hands before and after hair and make-up sessions.
Single-use cosmetic applicators are recommended for make-up artists, including mascara and lipstick. Shared tools and equipment should be disinfected after each use.
Cast members are encouraged to wear their own personal clothing. In the event that stylists are needed, these services should be reserved for as few cast members as possible.
Before and after styling, both talent and stylists should wash or sanitize their hands.
Dressing rooms where social distancing measures can be upheld are advised.
Craft Service and Catering
Dining: Production is strongly advised against buffet-style food service. The use of pre-packaged foods and ‘grab & go’ items is the preferred method for serving meals, offering single-serving portions and distributed in closed containers or receptacles. Alternatively, catered meals can be ordered earlier in the day and delivered to each individual department. All drinks should be in single serving containers, such as bottles or cans. Individually-wrapped disposable utensils should be offered in order to avoid surface or open-air contamination.
Crafty: Self-service crafty displays may no longer include:
– Self-serve coffee stations
– Unpackaged items and snack bowls
– Fresh fruit and vegetable platters
Seating: Implementation of a staggered crew meal schedule with social distancing measures observed for seating areas or a ‘Continuous Work’ schedule (often referred to as “French Hours”) is advised. Portable chairs (versus bench seating) are recommended.
Kitchen Staff: In addition to observing best practices for food handling, kitchen staff and servers should thoroughly wash their hands beforehand, wear gloves, and observe CDC guidance regarding PPE.
Whenever possible, all common areas and holding for talent should be set up outside. Seating should be arranged to promote distancing. To minimize cross-department exposure, it is strongly advised to designate seating by departments so that at-work groupings are maintained on breaks.
Control room should be set up outdoors when possible in order to reduce exposure.
Using technology to reduce in-person contact or utilizing dedicated go-betweens when possible is advised to minimize personal interactions between agency/client and production crew.
This guide was created by The Cabo Agency in collaboration with and based upon information from multiple public agencies and private sector businesses concerned about the safe resumption of film & television production in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights new emerging standards for enhanced sanitation and safety with a focus on recommended industry-specific hygiene and disinfection protocols as they pertain to travel to, from and within the production workplace.
Last Updated: January 15, 2021
“While the numbers in Mexico seem to be following a similar pattern of infections as the rest of the world, it is reassuring to see that the public health authorities are tracking and publishing the data, including comorbidity data which helps place the death rate in better context.”
– Rory Rogers, Director of Operations, The Cabo Agency
"And according an Expedia survey, Mexico holds all top five destinations to which Americans feel comfortable traveling when international travel options return. Such survey results likely reflect a similar sentiment of crews and talent.”
- Jason Hollander, Director, The Cabo Agency
“Jalisco is one of the most popular destinations for US leisure tourism --their methodical approach to business closures as well as their detailed plan for reopening seems to be reflected in their successful containment statistics at this time.”
– Shelley Murphy, Guest Experiences, The Cabo Agency
“Hilton CleanStay builds on the best practices and protocols we’ve developed over the last several months, allowing our guests to rest easy with us and focus on enjoying the unforgettable experiences we have to offer – while protecting our Team Members who are on the front lines of hospitality.”
- Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton President and CEO