The 14 contestants, who have been secluded in Cologne, Germany, since February 10, were told about the widespread coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, March 17.
Big Brother host Jochen Schropp told the cast that “a disease called Covid-19 had spread across the world” and “reached Europe.” Some contestants burst into tears while others questioned the greater effects the pandemic would have on the world, including the economy. The group were also allowed to receive video messages from their family and friends.
When Big Brother first began filming in early February, coronavirus cases were mostly found in China. As of Wednesday, March 18, Germany has reported more than 9,000 confirmed infections and 24 deaths. Although the Big Brother cast have remained unaware of the crisis on the inside, most of Germany’s businesses have been forced to close and the country has shut its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland except for commercial traffic.
Prior to the episode on Tuesday, the rules of the show forbid the cast from having contact with the outside world and the crew were not allowed to speak about the virus.
“The health and well-being of Big Brother Housemates is our priority,” production company Endemol Shine said in a statement on Tuesday. “All current productions were informed last week that the usual format rules regarding outside news do not apply in this instance, and it was requested that they inform their respective housemates of the evolving situation regarding COVID-19. The majority of housemates have already been briefed, and this process will be complete today [March 17].”
The U.S. version of Big Brother faced a similar outcome in 2001 when the season 2 cast were unaware of the September 11 attacks. However, producers opted to tell the final three contestants about the national tragedy.
CBS has not yet announced whether Big Brother — which typically airs in June or July — still plans to continue production but the coronavirus has already halted multiple reality shows, including The Amazing Race, Survivor and The Bachelorette.
Given the constantly evolving nature of COVID-19, UsWeekly wants our readers to have access to the most accurate resources. For the most up-to-date coronavirus information, guidance, and support, consult the CDC, WHO, and information from local public health officials. If you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms, call your primary care provider for medical advice.
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