According to show host and executive producer Chris Harrison, there is no update on when production will resume on season 16 of the ABC dating series amid the coronavirus pandemic. While production of her season was scheduled to begin earlier this month, it was indefinitely postponed due to the virus’ outbreak.
“Until we can do this show and do it safely, we won’t do it,” Harrison told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “Right now we are just on hold and it’s being postponed. But we’re all chomping at the bit to get back to it and to have Clare be our Bachelorette.”
With the contestants of the new season already announced, one has to wonder if Crawley, 39, is spending her free time looking up the male suitors.
“Oh, probably,” said Harrison. “Yeah. I’m sure the first thing I would’ve done, if I got my phone back, was check out the contestants.”
Harrison spoke to Crawley recently to find out how she’s handling life in quarantine.
“Like everybody, she’s frustrated,” said Harrison. “She’s safe and she’s doing what she’s supposed to do, but that means she’s sequestered at home and she lives by herself. Bad timing for Clare. It would have been great right after. She could have been quarantined with the man of her dreams, but now she just has to sit and think about being the Bachelorette.”
John Fleenor via Getty; Paula Lobo/ABC Chris Harrison and Clare Crawley
Harrison shared that the show won’t shy away from speaking about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) when The Bachelorette returns to airwaves, or how it affected Crawley’s interactions with the men.
“When we shoot Clare’s season, it’s going to be indicative of what’s happening in the world,” revealed Harrison. “Obviously there will be talks of the pandemic and, ‘What were you doing quarantining and who were you with?’ Those are going to be the conversations that we’re going to embrace. And then when you watch Clare’s season, 20 years from now, you’re going to think, ‘What? What were these people doing? Why did they not hug? Why were they scared to embrace?’ And that’s kind of the beauty of this show is it always embraces what’s happening in the real world.”
Harrison also revealed the pandemic may affect whether or not all the current contestants are able to participate on the show.
“If you use your common sense, you have to think, ‘Okay, out of all these people, are they all going to be healthy?’ ” said Harrison. “You pray to God that they all are, but what happens if some of these people are infected? What happens if some of them get severely sick? I mean, Colton [Underwood] went down, so once the smoke clears and this virus subsides and we think, ‘Okay, let’s get back to work.’ It’s going to be a brave new world and we’re all going to have to reassess everything.”
Jesse Grant/Getty Clare Crawley
Beyond The Bachelorette, Harrison said there is no update on the return of Bachelor In Paradise’s seventh season.
“All those conversations are so premature because it’s all about the calendar,” said Harrison. “It’s all about time and all we can do is sit and wait for this thing to subside. And then, we can start having those serious conversations.”
Harrison, 48, and girlfriend Lauren Zima, 32, have been quarantining together for nearly two weeks, and have used the time to launch their Group Date nightly series on Instagram. The series finds the pair getting candid with Bachelor fans, including a number of special guests, and gives them a chance to give back.
“Once we started doing the show, it really was this community and we realized that there was this thirst and this desire for people to still feel a part of something and to join something,” said Harrison. “From those watching The Bachelor and Lauren on Entertainment Tonight, we have this community out there and they wanted it. I think we were both surprised how the response has been, and just how needed it was, and how popular it’s become.”
Group Date can be found nightly at 9:30 p.m. ET on Harrison’s Instagram page.
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