'Saturday Night Live' Bans Live Audience Following COVID-19 Outbreak: 'Everyone Is Fearful Here'
Saturday Night Live will not be filming in front of a live audience for it's final show of 2021.
The Christmas episode — which was set to feature Paul Rudd as host, and Charli XCX as the musical guest — has banned their trademark live audience from the famous sketch show's taping on Saturday, December 18, following a COVID-19 outbreak among cast and crew.
NBC's SNL Twitter account announced the news only hours before the show was set to film, undoubtedly leaving contest winners and other audience members who had planned to attend confused and upset by the sudden change of plans.
"Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of “Saturday Night Live” and the show will have limited cast and crew," the statement read via Twitter.
"The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol." NBC also added that anyone who has won tickets to the show can expect to receive "more information soon" before thanking fans for their understanding amid these uncertain times.
According to New York Post, the show nearly cancelled the Christmas episode altogether after "4 actors" reportedly popped positive for coronavirus, with an insider spilling, "Everyone is fearful here."
The source explained that certain key cast members will also likely be missing from the taping, quipping that the "show must go on but don’t expect to see Colin Jost, Sarah Sherman or (Aristotle) Athari."
It is still uncertain if Rudd or the show's musical guest will be able to attend.
This isn't the first time the hit comedy show has been forced to change plans due to the ongoing pandemic. As OK! previously reported, Ed Sheeran had to postpone all of his public appearances — including his gig as musical guest on SNL — after testing positive for the virus in late October.
"Hey guys. Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly tested positive for Covid, so I’m now self-isolating and following government guidelines," the "Bad Habits" singer told his fans via social media.
An insider dished that Sheeran had offered to perform live via video, "but this isn’t something ‘SNL’ does ... The show likes to have the performer in studio."