CBS' 'Big Brother' sets all-star season premiere with COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Bill Keveney

CBS' "Big Brother" will draw attention for more than its mix of houseguests when it becomes one of the first shows to return to production and TV screens as the medium gingerly restarts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The network announced Thursday that the 22nd season of the popular reality competition, which is hosted by Julie Chen Moonves, will return with an all-star edition on Aug. 5 (9 live EDT/taped PDT). The press release for the show, which was originally scheduled to premiere in late June, detailed health and safety protocols.

As TV slowly restarts production, reality shows are expected to return more quickly than scripted series. NBC's "America's Got Talent" taped an outdoor episode in June that will air on Tuesday (8 EDT/PDT). "Love Island," another CBS reality series that filmed its first season in Fiji, has begun pre-production on a quarantined Season 2 in Las Vegas. 

Julie Chen Moonves returns as host of CBS' 'Big Brother' when the long-running reality competition opens its 22nd season on Aug. 5.

The "Big Brother" release said the identities of the houseguests – a field that includes winners, finalists and memorable personalities – will be announced later. It's the second all-star edition for the show and the first since 2006.

The announcement went into detail explaining the health and safety protocols designed to protect houseguests, staff and crew during the upcoming season, which arrives 20 years after CBS launched its version of the international format on July 5, 2000.

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According to CBS, houseguests are subject to a quarantine period before production begins and they will be tested several times before entering the house. Once inside the house, which is outfitted with 94 cameras and 113 microphones, "they will be tested weekly during the season and have no contact with any crew members."

Houseguests Jackson Michie, left, Sam Smith, David Alexander, Tommy Bracco and Christie Murphy gathered in the 'Big Brother' house for the Season 21 premiere in 2019.

All supplies delivered to the house will be disinfected and the live eviction shows will not have the traditional studio audience.

The protocols extend to staff and crew, with all being tested before starting regular work on the show and getting daily screenings for symptoms. All will be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and work in pods "to enhance social distancing." The show's staff will include a COVID-19 compliance officer. 

As "Big Brother" fans know, one contestant will be voted out of the house each week, with the last remaining houseguest winning $500,000. After the Aug. 5 premiere, the show will revert to its traditional three-show-per-week format, with Sunday and Wednesday episodes followed by the live Thursday eviction show (all 8 EDT/PDT).