UPDATE: Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Cannes Film Festival has said that 48-hour salivary testing for COVID-19 is still mandatory despite its introduction of sanitary passes earlier this week.
Reports, which are as yet unconfirmed, indicate that organizers may even be revoking the passes from those who were issued the documents. Variety has confirmed they were wrongly distributed to non-EU delegates. “Some passes have been given by mistake,” said the festival.
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The sanitary passes were initially shared with the understanding that they effectively remove the need to take a salivary RT-PCR test every two days.
However, the festival said on Saturday evening local time that “there is absolutely no [exemption] for vaccinated U.S. and U.K. citizens to avoid the PCR testing system in Cannes every 48 hours. The Festival has put in place a solution to resolve bugs in the TAC system app for European Union citizens (ex: Switzerland), but also for non-EU citizens who had a negative result at the PCR test lab in Cannes and didn’t receive properly their QR code.”
This means that any sanitary pass will likely be voided going forward and rejected by Palais staff.
The purple-bordered passes, which were first introduced on Wednesday, were made available to those who are fully vaccinated (meaning it has been two weeks since the second vaccination or one month since the single-dose vaccine) from the Gare Maritime, which is between the Grand Palais and the RT-PCR testing centre.
One attendant — who reviewed vaccination records and dates extremely thoroughly before issuing the passes — told Variety there were “many problems” with the PCR testing system, which don’t reliably deliver results within the promised six-hour window, and for which desired testing slots aren’t always available due to heavy demand. This has added another layer of panic for those rushing to screenings in the Grand Palais, or attending meetings and press conferences within the building.
The attendant said the festival quietly began making the passes — which have a barcode and can be attached to the lanyard — available from Wednesday, though it wisely advised that delegates voluntarily continue taking the salivary tests “for their own safety.”
The festival moved quickly on Friday to kibosh rumours about a rise in COVID-19 cases on the ground. General Secretary Francois Desrousseaux told Variety that there is no COVID-19 cluster at Cannes. “Out of several thousand people getting testing here on a daily basis, there are an average of three cases per day,” said Desrousseaux, who hammered out protocols with the festival’s organizers, producers and Cannes regional authorities.
However, French president Emmanuel Macron is due to give a televised address on Monday and it’s believed he may introduce stricter restrictions as the Delta variant looks to become the predominant strain in France as early as this weekend.
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