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SYFY WIRE The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus on how hard it is to fight a zombie under COVID protocols

By Jacob Oller

TV and film productions worldwide have begun adapting to a new normal after the coronavirus pandemic initially delayed work across the entertainment industry. As people return to work, implemented safety measures haven't been anywhere close to perfect -- The Batman's star Robert Pattinson contracted COVID-19, as did members of the Jurassic World: Dominion production, despite its efforts to pioneer best practices for the industry.

Now The Walking Dead is heading back into action, and it's bringing its own innovations to the space ... though it remains to be seen how effective they are at keeping its workers healthy.

Speaking to EW, Daryl actor Norman Reedus explained some of the techniques the production was using to keep cast and crew safe after starting up filming (on the six "extra" episodes of Season 10) in Georgia. First is the most obvious: masks.

“We're being super safe,” Reedus said. “There's a ton of rules now. Everybody's masked up or has shields on. I have a big scar on my face so that this mask doesn't work, so I wear the shield [and] everybody else wears masks. They take our temperature right off the bat. We get tested three times a week. We do the rapid testing.”

Pretty par for the course, but TWD requires action — "zombie trying to eat somebody" action. So how is that addressed when closeness is so necessary? Camera tricks and altered choreography.

“I just fought with a zombie stuntman last week,” Reedus explained. “And usually you're kind of face to face and you can roll around together and have fluid movements and it doesn't hurt your body as much. But this guy had to be away from me and he had to wear a mask on a zombie, which was really weird. But instead of the fluid-rolling-around sort of style, he has to stiff-arm me to get his face out of camera. So it hurt a lot more! I finally got manhandled by the zombie.”

Additionally, the cast is sporting a piece of tech that will help prevent them from spending too much time within others' bubbles — be they human or walker. “We wear these little tracers in our clothes that will tell us how long we spend in proximity to another tracer,” the actor said. While he didn't elaborate on what the exact protocols were for those sensors, being cognizant of the danger is, at least, the first step. The production just kicked off, so fans will soon know if these safety measures truly kept those working on TWD safe.

Season 10's bonus episodes will air in early 2021 on AMC.