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The Toronto Film Festival will require Hollywood talent and execs attending its upcoming 2021 edition to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their arrival at any TIFF venue.
The move, announced on Monday, follows a directive that those launching their latest movies in-person, including on the red carpet, had to mask up at all theaters and affiliated venues. But TIFF organizers had stopped short of demanding proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter its venues after Canada began allowing entry only to fully vaccinated Americans starting Aug. 9.
The change of policy now comes as part of the latest update of COVID-19 protocols for talent, rights holders, press and industry attending Toronto’s upcoming Sept. 9-18 edition and follows a rise in COVID-19 infections in Ontario amid the delta variant.
The new demand for proof of vaccination or a negative test will not apply to TIFF movie-goers at outdoor drive-in theathers where audiences will be in their cars.
“TIFF has taken great care and consideration in implementing these TIFF specific protocols to mitigate risk to audiences and guests attending TIFF. We have relied on municipal and provincial medical direction and advice on rapid testing and we expect this will provide another level of clarity and comfort for all 2021 festival goers,” Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-heads, said in a statement.
Festival organizers earlier ordered that talent attending TIFF will be required to do a PCR test within 72 hours of arriving in Canada, and every 48 hours until their departure. And artistic teams accompanying a film’s talent and director will require proof of a negative PCR test to gain entry to movie premieres, press conferences, ceremonies and other affiliated events.
At TIFF theaters and affiliated venues, the festival will offer no rush ticketing or allow indoor lineups. There will be no food or drinks sold at indoor festival venues.
The strict COVID protocols follow a decision by Toronto fest organizers to hold a portion of their event in-person. But while TIFF earlier touted the low incidence of COVID infections during the current summer season, and a successful vaccine rollout countrywide, infections are on the rise in and around Toronto.
On Sunday, Ontario reported 722 new COVID-19 cases, up from the 689 infections on Saturday, and the highest number of new daily cases since June 5 when 744 cases were reported.
The 2021 festival will effectively resemble last year’s hybrid event, with limited in-person film screenings. Last year, TIFF introduced its digital screening platform to comply with safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, Toronto organizers aim with proof of vaccination, mask-wearing, social-distancing and COVID-testing to get more Americans and other international filmmakers, media and other industry attendees to the Canadian festival for its upcoming September run than at last year’s event, when a highly restricted hybrid edition was staged amid the pandemic in September 2020.
TIFF organizers plan to screen around 100 films, starting with Stephen Chbosky’s Dear Evan Hansen kicking as the opening night film at Roy Thomson Hall.
The Canadian government choosing to end quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated American visitors to Canada from Aug. 9 means industry attendees can potentially travel to Toronto and not be required to isolate on arrival if they show proof of full vaccinations.
Toronto organizers are updating the festival COVID protocols when required as they work with local public health officials and politicians to ensure a safe 2021 edition.
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