Coronavirus: Live audiences banned from ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ tapings

What is an empty studio?

If that sounds like the answer to a “Jeopardy!” question, it is -- for now, anyway.

Popular game shows “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” confirmed they have suspended filming episodes in front of live studio audiences as a way to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus, The Washington Post reported.

“Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel audience attendance for the tapings of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ for the time being,” the newspaper reported, citing a source "close to ‘Jeopardy!’”

Both shows are scheduled to tape episodes through mid-April at Sony Picture Television’s lot in Culver City, California, Variety reported.

The studio’s caution could protect audience members and the hosts and announcers of the shows. “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek is 79 and has been battling pancreatic cancer for more than a year. “Jeopardy!” announcer Johnny Gilbert is 95, while “Wheel of Fortune” hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are older than 60 years old.

Their ages put them “at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ABC, NBC and CBS have not changed their talk show protocols regarding live audiences -- yet, Variety reported.

According to the Post, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” attract studio audiences that are older in age and frequently travel from out of state to attend the tapings. The CDC has identified those factors as risks for the spread of coronavirus.

Officials from both shows did not say how long the audiences will be kept off the sets during tapings, the Post reported.