Many popular television shows, including late-night comedy programs, announced this week they will record without any live studio audience due to increased fears over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
NBC's "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon, "Late Night" with Seth Meyers, CBS' "Late Show" with Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central's "Daily Show" with Trevor Noah are just some of the shows that will carry on without their fans in attendance, starting March 16, as The Hollywood Reporter noted.
TBS' "Full Frontal" with Samantha Bee, HBO's "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver and Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" with Andy Cohen also reportedly are preparing for the new reality.
"The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority," NBC executives said in a statement. "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. 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."
CBS also issued a statement about the change, saying there were no specific issues with the studios. The network claimed it's erring on the side of caution, given the recent news surrounding the virus.
"Beginning Monday, March 16, 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' will film without a live, in-studio audience. This move is being made out of an abundance of caution regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the uncertainty of the situation for future weeks," the network said.
"Per guidance from New York City officials, CBS and 'The Late Show' are doing their part to help decrease the potential rate of transmission in our communities. There have not been any specific developments at The Ed Sullivan Theater to cause concern for audiences with plans to attend the show tonight, tomorrow, or who have attended in recent weeks. For several weeks, the team at the theater has been taking all necessary precautions to protect everyone who enters and works in the theater with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures."
Comedy Central told The Hollywood Reporter, "Our top priority is the safety of our guests and staff. Beginning Monday, March 16th, Comedy Central’s NY based late-night series, 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,' will film without a live, in-studio audience. This move is being made out of an abundance of caution and concern regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus and per guidance from New York City officials to take appropriate actions."
"There have been no developments at 'The Daily Show's' studio to cause concern for audience members who have plans to attend the show tonight or tomorrow," it continued. "Measures have been taken to protect everyone who enters and works in the office and studio with enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures."
HBO put out a similar statement about Oliver's show, saying the new system will begin on Sunday, March 15, when the next episode is scheduled to be shot.
Other television programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show," as well as game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" have taken similar precautions in the face of the outbreak. Daytime talk shows including "Dr. Phil," "The View" and "Live With Kelly and Ryan" also are planning to ditch the studio audience format, for the foreseeable future.
Major events including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Coachella have been canceled or delayed as a result of the outbreak, while health officials in Washington, D.C., have recommended the nation's capital take steps to limit large public gatherings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, there have been some 1,100 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. with 30 deaths.