Love in the time of Covid: TV kisses return, despite pandemic

William Levy. (Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images)
William Levy. (Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images)

Dozens of "workers" wearing face masks remain immobile under the baking midday sun in a coffee plantation in central Colombia.

Suddenly a voice shouts out: "Face masks off, we're going to roll!"

Colombia's popular daytime soap operas - known as telenovelas in Latin America - were forced off the screens by the coronavirus pandemic. But after six months of silence, they are back in all their steamy and corny glory - kisses included.

Filmed in the central-western Caldas region Coffee with the Scent of a Woman is operating under strict restrictions in terms of staffing capacity, the use of masks, personal protective equipment and regular Covid-19 testing.

It's constrained by a reduced budget and the perennial risk of being shut down again - a far cry from the romanticism of its characters and storylines. Social distancing is a near-impossibility in an industry that relies on close contacts, whether between actors or in their interactions with make-up or wardrobe artists.

There are also dozens of people working in close proximity behind the camera.

Actors Laura Londono and William Levy, the stars of Coffee, talk to each other without masks, centimeters apart as the romance between their characters Paloma and Sebastian bubbles to the surface.

"If we were astronauts we'd have a different distance but we're actors, we work with the voice and the body," said Katherine Velez, who plays Paloma's mother, Carmenza.

To ensure safety, the entire production staff take Covid tests every Monday and most of them live at the farm that doubles as the soap's set. Colombia has recorded more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases and over 42 000 deaths.

Click "Read More" for the full article.

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