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Cannes Film Festival Covid protocols: Masks, testing won’t be mandatory

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The Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 17, is significantly loosening its Covid health and safety protocols.

The annual celebration of movies won’t be testing attendees, as it did last year, and will not institute a mask mandate at screenings and events, reports ‘Variety’.

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Variety spoke exclusively with Cannes general secretary FranAois Desrousseaux, who has been hammering out protocols with the festival’s organisers, producers and Cannes regional authorities for the past two years.

One big change compared with 2021 is that the health pass that made it mandatory for all attendees to show a proof of vaccination, immunity or test results, has been scrapped since March 14.

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“Since the health pass is no longer in application in France, guests will not have to show a proof of testing or vaccination to enter the Palais,” Desrousseaux said.

According to ‘Variety’, the executive said “most participants will likely be vaccinated anyway, because France has made it very complicated for non-vaccinated travellers to enter the country.” He also pointed out that roughly 95 per cent of the adult population in France has already received two shots of the vaccine.

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“We’re in a very different situation than last year because the curve of Covid-19 infections is going down, instead of going up,” the Paris-based executive said.

As of April 29, Covid cases in France had dropped by 30 per cent, a sign that the rate of infection is slowing. However, film festivals and awards shows have been super-spreader events, with the likes of SXSW, the Oscars and the British Academy Film Awards resulting in numerous cases of Covid.

Desrousseaux said the absence of compulsory testing should come as a relief to all those whose vaccination cards didn’t qualify for the health pass last year — notably British and American guests — and therefore had to go through a demanding saliva test every two days in a pop-up lab adjacent to the Palais.

Although Cannes won’t be setting up its 300-square-meter testing lab again, guests will be able to get a PCR test in a lab located in the city of Cannes, a five-minute walk from the Palais.

Non-French citizens will be charged 43 pounds ($45), said Desrousseaux.

Another change from last year is that masks will not be mandatory indoors, but will instead be strongly recommended. Desrousseaux said Cannes staffers will be wearing masks, however. He said the Palais des Festivals was France’s first congress venue to be awarded the GBAC STARTM facility label (an American certification that is issued by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council) and the eCOVID label.

“That basically means that the Palais reinforces cleaning procedures and is using top-of-the-line CO2 sensors which are verified twice a day, and we’re renewing the air conditioning constantly,” said the executive.

A couple of initiatives will be brought back for this 75th edition.

For instance, the medical office located inside the Palais will be staffed with a team dedicated to Covid-19, as well as a call center called Conciergerie Medicale that will offer international guests advice on how to navigate the French medical system and get a doctor’s appointment.

Video consultation will be free and can be scheduled within 24 hours upon request.

Looking back at the efficiency of last year’s stricter health protocol, Desrousseaux said there were only up to 10 positive cases out of 1,500 tests per day.

“During the last few days, the number of cases rose to 20 because the third wave was about to kick off, but we were really lucky to avoid it,” he said.

In terms of participation, Desrousseaux said the festival was on track to welcome approximately 35,000 accredited guests, compared with roughly 24,000 last year. The biggest spike in participation is coming from North America and Western Europe.

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