The annual film celebration will not test attendees, as it did last year, and will not institute mask mandates at screenings and events.
Variety spoke exclusively with the Secretary General of Cannes, François Desrousseaux, who has been negotiating protocols with the organizers, producers and the Cannes region of the festival for two years. A big change from 2021 is that the health pass which required all attendees to show proof of vaccination, immunity or test results, has been scrapped since March 14.
“As the health pass is no longer in effect in France, guests will not have to show proof of testing or vaccination to enter the Palace,” Desrousseaux said. The executive said that “most participants will probably be vaccinated anyway, as France has made it very difficult for unvaccinated travelers to enter the country”. He also pointed out that around 95% of the adult population in France has already received two injections of the vaccine.
“We are in a very different situation from last year as the curve of COVID-19 infections is falling instead of rising,” the Paris-based executive said.
As of April 29, COVID cases in France had dropped by 30%, a sign that the infection rate is slowing. However, film festivals and awards shows have been very common events, with events like SXSW, the Oscars and the British Academy Film Awards resulting in many cases of COVID.
Desrousseaux said the lack of mandatory testing should provide relief to anyone whose vaccination cards were ineligible for the health pass last year – including British and American guests – and therefore had to go through a demanding saliva test every two days in a temporary laboratory adjacent to the Palace.
Although Cannes is not relocating its 300 square meter test lab, guests will be able to take a PCR test at a lab in the city of Cannes, a five-minute walk from the Palace. Non-French citizens will be charged €43 ($45), Desrousseaux said.
Another change from last year is that masks will not be required indoors, but will instead be strongly recommended. Desrousseaux said Cannes employees will wear masks, however. He specifies that the Palais des Festivals is the first conference venue in France to have obtained the GBAC STARTM facility label (American certification issued by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council) and the eCOVID label. “This basically means the Palace is stepping up cleaning procedures and using high-end CO2 sensors which are checked twice a day, and we are constantly renewing the air conditioning,” the executive said.
A few initiatives will be back for this 75th edition. For example, the medical office inside the Palace will have a dedicated COVID-19 team, as well as a call center called Conciergerie Médicale that will offer international clients advice on how to navigate the French medical system and to get an appointment with the doctor. . The video consultation will be free and can be scheduled within 24 hours upon request.
Looking back on the effectiveness of last year’s stricter health protocol, Desrousseaux said there were only up to 10 positive cases out of 1,500 tests per day. “Over the past few days, the number of cases rose to 20 as the third wave was about to start, but we were very lucky to avoid it,” he said.
In terms of attendance, Desrousseaux said the festival is on track to welcome around 35,000 accredited guests, up from around 24,000 last year. The largest spike in participation comes from North America and Western Europe.
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