The host of the German edition of Big Brother has discussed his decision to keep the show’s contestants inside the house amid the coronavirus crisis.
The show’s 14 contestants were told about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on live television last week as part of the show.
The majority of the show’s contestants have been inside the house in Cologne since February 6, when Germany had no isolation rules. Four more housemates were added on March 6, three days before Germany reported its first coronavirus death.
Cologne is in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.
Now, speaking to the Guardian, the show’s producer Rainer Laux calls the Big Brother house “the safest place in Germany right now” and defends the decision to keep the contestants inside.
“As a general rule, the contestants are not meant to know what is going on in the outside world. But when the number of Covid-19 cases in Europe began to increase dramatically, we knew we needed to tell them,” Laux says.
“Cancelling the show wasn’t an option, but if one of the people had told us they wanted to be with their family, we would have let them. At the end of the day, it’s just television.
“We didn’t want there to be a great drama; just to give the contestants a sober account of what was happening outside. That’s why we sat the Big Brother doctor, who assessed the contestants, next to the host, behind a glass wall. The German Big Brother container is located near Cologne, in North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state that has seen the highest number of infections and deaths.”
He continued, stating that contestants were allowed calls with loved ones and relatives. “A lot of relatives begged the contestants to stay in the house. It’s the safest place in Germany right now: you are effectively already under quarantine.
“It’s also the only place in Germany that doesn’t need to apply any social distancing measures, or handwashing routines, because we know all the contestants are healthy. The celebrities who were introduced to the house later on were all tested beforehand. If Angela Merkel had wanted to give her corona address to the nation from inside the Big Brother house, we would have let her in.”
Laux ends by saying that if a contestant is voted out of the house, they will have to leave as per the show’s usual rules, even if they asked to stay.
In the UK this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK were to adopt strict coronavirus lockdown measures.
In a TV address from inside 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister said UK citizens must stay at home except to shop for food and medicine, for only one form of exercise per day, and to travel to and from essential workplaces.
On Friday (March 27), Johnson himself revealed that he’s tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms in the last 24 hours.