It looks like Love Island Australia may be cancelled after a crew member tested positive for COVID! and was charged with breaching public health orders after sending the Byron Bay region into a seven-day snap lockdown.
So Dramatic! can exclusively reveal that further testing of crew from ITV Studios – who produces both I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Love Island – has been carried out, and more than one crew member has tested positive for COVID.
“ITV Studios were devastated to find out that one of their crew members – a makeup artist – tested positive for COVID,” a production insider told So Dramatic!. “However, unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident. The entire production staff had to be tested and multiple crew members have now come back with positive results.
They continued: “The Nine Network heads are freaking out because not only will production be unable to go ahead but the entire company will likely be banned from any future projects.
“This is going to have huge implications across the entire industry.”
How Did It Transpire?
The insider explained that filming of I’m a Celebrity had just finished filming and staff members were having a “wrap up party” in Byron Bay on Saturday to celebrate.
“The woman had not been working on I’m A Celebrity,” the source clarified. “She flew from Sydney to Ballina on Saturday, to start work on Love Island the next day and met up with co-workers on the production crew from I’m A Celebrity and they had a night out in the pub to celebrate the end of the show.”
The source explained that some of the I’m a Celebrity crew were staying on to work on Love Island .
“Some production crew were moving from one set to the other. They were also flying additional crew up from Sydney,” they said. “They finished filming in Murwillambuh and were making their way to Byron Bay and met up with the Sydney woman who was unknowingly infected at the time.”
The insider explained that the following day, the woman began work on set. On Monday, she returned a positive test for COVID during routine production testing.
Under the current exemption guidelines, the woman was only allowed to travel directly from the airport to her accommodation, leaving her room only for work purposes and returning to it immediately afterwards.
“This has now created huge delays for the Love Island production and the show may have to be pushed back or even cancelled given how many of the crew have tested positive and potentially even more,” the insider dished. Two entire production crews have potentially been infected with the virus.”
The source went on to explain that executive producers were “freaking out” that they are most likely not going to be able to begin filming on their scheduled date in a week’s time.
“All close contacts have to isolate for two weeks and pre-filming is meant to be starting in the next few days,” the production source told So Dramatic! “There is no way they will be able to film.”
What do ITV and Nine Have to Say About it?
A Nine spokesperson told So Dramatic! : “We are working with production and authorities as we find a way to deliver the show for our audience.”
They emphasised that there have been no other confirmed cases with the crew.
What Did the Woman Do?
The woman travelled with an exemption from Sydney to Byron Bay to work as a crew member on the ITV production. However, she has been charged with breaching NSW health orders.
The staff member allegedly did a lil’ naughty and visited venues outside of their authorised work locations, as revealed by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in her press conference on Wednesday.
“They were there only to work but they breached the health orders and went to multiple venues they weren’t allowed to go to… that person did the wrong thing,” she said. “I’ve been advised by police that person has been charged.”
On Wednesday morning, NSW Police charged the Rushcutters Bay woman with “multiple alleged breaches of the public health orders.” She is due to appear before Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday, November 8 to face five counts of failing to comply with an electronic registration directive (failing to check in with QR codes).
The Byron Bay and Tweed shires were thrown into a snap seven-day lockdown on Tuesday afternoon after a case was recorded in the area.
What Has the Mayor of Byron Shire Said?
The Major of Byron Shire has now demanded Love Island Australia to halt production because he had lost faith in ITV Studios to abide by the conditions the industry had set for itself.
“I’ve lost all confidence in their ability to protect the community,” Michael Lyon said in a Facebook post. “It shows these protections are still based on an honour system. I thought crew members were going to be limited to within the production, certainly not allowed to be going out and about.”
He also accused the production company of bringing “Covid to the region” and said he was “looking into our options” and trying to “rescind council approval” for the filming of the show.
“I’ve made my position clear to the other councillors,” he said. “I’m not in favour of [Love Island] anymore. The general consensus is that we’re going to try to rescind the approval.”
“It is clear that this is not possible to implement given what has happened in the last few days. Council approval was only one part of the process, it hasn’t yet had Ministerial approval so I’d say it is unlikely to proceed.”
“I’m deadly serious,” Cr Lyon said of his plan to revoke permission for Love Island. “There’s a lot of angst and upset in the community about this.”
“It is so devastating to be in lockdown again and it is clear the ‘honour’ system relied on by the State Government is deeply flawed. It is worth noting that people coming here for work don’t actually have to show a negative COVID test; this was thankfully part of the filming protocol that allowed this early detection. Perhaps our calls for a tightening of restrictions will now finally be heeded,” concluded the councillor.
In a statement, ITV responded saying: “We take our CovidSAFE plan extremely seriously. The health, safety and welfare of the community, as well as our cast and crew, is our number one priority.”
Final approval for filming for a period of more than 30 days must be granted as an exemption by the NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said: “Our position has always been that we would not grant an exemption for filming if it did not have the support of council”.
According to an ABC report on Tuesday, the production company behind the hit series, ITV Australia, confirmed one of its crew had contracted the virus.
“This discovery was made through the rigorous testing regime implemented by our COVID-safe plan,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The crew member is fully vaccinated and was wearing PPE while at work.”
The COVID-19 infected crew member and their close contacts have now been identified and are currently in isolation pending further test results.
“We are working with NSW Health to ensure all necessary steps are taken in relation to contact tracing, testing and further communication to anyone that needs to isolate,” the statement continued.
Get the tea first! Follow So Dramatic! on Instagram and tune in on Mondays to get your reality tea fix with the So Dramatic! podcast with Megan Pustetto.