Production on season 41 was supposed to begin "later this month in Fiji," according to CBS, and "the plan is to return to production on May 19"

By Natalie Stone
March 11, 2020 05:22 PM
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As the coronavirus continues to spread globally, Survivor is taking serious precautions and delaying production on the upcoming season 41.

In a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday, a CBS spokesperson confirmed that production has been delayed on the show’s 41st season, “which was set to begin filming later this month in Fiji,” and will now plan to begin production May 19.

“Due to concerns and uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 globally, CBS and the producers of Survivor have taken the precautionary measure to delay production on the 41st season, which was set to begin filming later this month in Fiji,” the CBS spokesperson said. “Pending worldwide events, the plan is to return to production on May 19th. The health and safety of the castaways and production members is our top priority.”

In the below letter, which was exclusively obtained by Entertainment Weekly, host Jeff Probst informed the crew on Wednesday about the show’s production being postponed.

Jeff Probst
Robert Voets/CBS via Getty

Hey Survivor crew,

Due to the growing short-term uncertainty surrounding the global spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding desire for the continued well-being of our amazing crew, we have decided to push back our start date for Survivor season 41.

Though Fiji has no reported cases and is beautifully remote, our crew numbers over 400 and are flying in from over 20 different countries, creating a need for more time to fully analyze and create our new production safety plan.

This situation is unprecedented and we are learning more information every day. It is out of concern for the well-being of all of you that we have taken this step.

Our intention is to begin production after the S40 live show. Therefore, subject to new information, our new planned start date for production would be on or about May 19th, 2020. Our intention is to still to shoot both seasons 41 and 42.

We know many of you will have questions and we will start a communication chain to keep everybody up to date.

We are the most experienced international television team in the world and for 20 years we have calmly and successfully managed a variety of production issues. We will navigate this one the same way.

Thank you for understanding our need for this extra time to create our plan.

Jeff

Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared that coronavirus has officially become a pandemic.

During a media briefing led by director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency announced that after “assessing this outbreak around the clock” and feeling “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” the WHO has “made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

A pandemic is “the worldwide spread of a new disease,” according to the WHO. “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity,” the organization further explains on their website. “Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses.”

Currently, Survivor season 40 is airing and features 20 previous winners who have come back to earn the title of Sole Survivor once more.

Survivor: Winners at War airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.