Saturday Night Live, Grey's Anatomy and More TV Shows Stop Production Amid Coronavirus Concerns
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers previously suspended production
The show, which was scheduled to return from hiatus on March 28, has shut down production until further notice, a spokesperson for NBC confirmed to PEOPLE on Monday.
A network representative told PEOPLE that production has been halted as a precautionary measure amid the global health crisis and that NBC will continue to monitor the situation closely as further information develops.
Grey’s Anatomy has also temporarily teased production over COVID-19 concerns.
“Out of an abundance of caution, production is postponed on Grey’s Anatomy effective immediately,” a letter sent from the showrunners to the cast and crew reads. “We are going home now for at least two weeks and waiting to see how the coronavirus situation evolves.”
“This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of the whole cast and crew and the safety of our loved ones outside of work, and it was made in accordance with Mayor Garcetti’s suggestion that we not gather in groups of more than 50.”
“Stay safe, stay healthy, stay hydrated, stay home as much as possible, and wash your hands frequently. Please take care of yourselves and each other. As updates come in, we will keep you informed.”
“Thank you for all that you do!”
Beginning Friday, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers will suspend production through their previously planned hiatuses, NBC confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday. The hiatuses were scheduled for the week of March 23.
The Tonight show is taping an original episode on Thursday without an audience, and guests include Dr. Oz, Mandy Moore and Dane DeHaan, said NBC.
As for Late Night, Meyers’ program won’t tape an episode on Thursday, but rather an encore episode is set to air.
The network said it will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions about future shows as it gets closer to beginning production.
The announcement comes after all New York City-based late-night programs — including Tonight Show and Late Night — decided to pull live audiences due to growing concerns amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to several reports.
CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Fox News Channel’s The Greg Gutfeld Show all announced on Wednesday that they would tape their broadcasts without an audience to protect against the quickly-spreading virus.
Bee’s program immediately implemented the new policy on Wednesday night’s show. Gutfeld plans to begin on Saturday, March 14, Variety reports, while Oliver and Cohen will both scratch live audiences beginning Sunday, March 15. The rest of the shows will all be audience-free starting Monday, March 16.
NBC has not yet revealed if they will also tape Saturday Night Live without a studio audience. The show’s next broadcast is not scheduled until March 28.
“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority. As a precautionary measure, starting Monday, March 16, we have decided to suspend live audiences for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers,” NBC said in a previous statement to Deadline. “Per guidance from New York City officials, the company is hoping to do its part to help to decrease the rate of transmission in our communities. Our shows will continue filming on their regular schedule, and currently, there will be no impact on air dates.”
None of the shows have reported any staffers or crew members with exposure to the virus, but are simply taking precautionary measures to help contain the virus spread.
On Wednesday, World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
When officials made the announcement, they urged world leaders and citizens to take action to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, at a press conference in Geneva. “It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”
“There’s been so much attention on one word,” he said. “Let me give you some other words that matter much more, and that are much more actionable: Prevention. Preparedness. Public health. Political leadership. And most of all, people.”
According to its official website, the WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” (Get even more information about pandemics, what defines them and why the coronavirus is one here.)
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus,” said Ghebreyesus. “It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”
He added: “We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”