Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, along with host Ryan Seacrest returned to work with new social distancing guidelines

By Christina Dugan
October 07, 2020 03:00 PM
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The American Idol crew is back to work!

In a PEOPLE exclusive first look, longtime host Ryan Seacrest and judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and new mom Katy Perry are back on set of the ABC singing competition show — but this time, with new social distancing guidelines.

Viewers of Idol, which kicked off production for its fourth season on Monday, will see slight changes to the look of the auditions. Now, judges will sit at separate tables — six feet apart from each other — and interact in specified zones.

Additionally, rigorous safety and health protocols on set will adhere to state and local requirements as well as union and industry guidelines for production, according to a release obtained by PEOPLE.

Cast, crew and contestants will also be tested regularly for coronavirus in accordance with these guidelines.

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan
ABC/Stewart Cook

While the judges traditionally travel to various locations across the U.S. for auditions, they will stay put in California heading to just three locations in the state. Contestants will travel to audition in front of the judges.

In August, ABC announced that Bryan, Richie and Perry would be all returning for the show's fourth installment on the network after its former tenure on Fox.

The show was one of the first programs to air virtual broadcasts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"American Idol has always been able to bring people together, entertain and inspire, and I am so proud of how this show continued to deliver joy and laughter into people's homes during a time when we needed it the most," Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a press release at the time. "There is no one who we feel more confident about leading us into a new season of high notes than Luke, Katy, Lionel and the incomparable Ryan Seacrest."

In late September, Perry — who welcomed her daughter Daisy Dove with fiancé Orlando Bloom in August — shared a series of tweets about her experience of getting back work while raising her baby girl.

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"Popular misconception: being a mom isn’t a full-time job," the 35-year-old singer tweeted.

The "Smile" singer continued: "Part 2: when a mom finally goes back to work (whatever profession they do) it’s not like they been coming from months of ‘time off …’ she’s coming from a full time job … of being a mom, lol.”

"Part 3: call your mom and tell her you love and appreciate her and advocate for paid family leave!” she added.

American Idol will return in 2021 on ABC.