FILE – In this March 2, 2020, file photo, tourists pull their trolleys as they walk through a nearly empty St. Mark’s Square on a rainy day in Venice. America’s failure so far to contain the spread of the coronavirus as it moves across the country has been met with astonishment and alarm on both sides of the Atlantic. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File).
By NICOLE WINFIELD – Japan Today
The Venice Film Festival, the first major in-person cinema showcase of the COVID-19 era, is requiring participants to wear face masks during screenings and take a coronavirus test if they are arriving from outside Europe.
According to guidelines published Thursday, fans and the general public will be kept away from the red carpet during the Sept 2-12 festival, and movie-goers will have to buy tickets and reserve seats online to ensure every other seat is left vacant.
Nine gates set up at various points around the Venice Lido will take temperatures of movie-goers and media, and stars will have transport and red carpet arrivals arranged by festival organizers to prevent crowds from forming even within official delegations.
Festival-goers attending indoor events will be tracked to guarantee contact tracing if necessary.
The film festival will be the first in-person movie event since the pandemic began and it is one of the first major international events that Italy is hosting after becoming the onetime COVID-19 epicenter in Europe. After getting infections under control with a strict, 10-week national lockdown that ended in May, Italy is now dealing with a rebound in cases as a result of summer vacation travel.
The Toronto and New York film festivals that follow Venice will be largely virtual this year, and the Telluride festival has been reborn as a drive-in series in Los Angeles.
In Italy, movie-goers must wear face masks to enter movie theaters but can remove them once seated. Biennale, organizers however, are requiring masks indoors and out as well as throughout the screenings.
In addition, anyone arriving from outside Europe’s open-border Shengen area must take a virus test before arriving and will be tested again courtesy of the Biennale once in Venice, the guidelines said.
Biennale organizers said the guidelines were worked out with local health care officials.