Hopeful Cannes attendees from the U.K. could face some hard decisions as France imposes a seven-day quarantine for visitors from the country, but festival organizers have been already been exploring different solutions in case these restrictions persist beyond June, Variety has learned.
The quarantine rules will come into effect from Monday, but they will likely be changed by next month. If the quarantine for U.K. travelers, or other overseas visitors, stays in place in early July, the Cannes Film Festival will seek special exemptions for industry executives and talent attending the festival, on the condition that they are fully vaccinated and have a negative PCR test dating from less than 72 hours, according to a source close to Cannes.
Such exemptions have been given to at least one other global event. Mobile World Congress Barcelona will place from June 28 to July 1 with similar conditions for entry.
The French government is closely monitoring the fast-evolving health situation and previously said it would re-evaluate restrictions and guidelines frequently.
“There is a new situation with the progression of the so-called Indian variant in the United Kingdom,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal. He added that France “will set up compulsory isolation for people coming from the U.K.”
Clement Beaune, France’s junior minister for European Affairs, confirmed that U.K. visitors would also need to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken 48 hours before departure.
The quarantine is prompted by fears around the B.1.617.2 strain of the coronavirus, popularly known as the “Indian variant” after its country of mutation, which is spreading rapidly around the U.K. The variant is growing at 18% a week and is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the country, with 3,424 cases confirmed so far.
According to U.K. government advisory body SAGE, transmission rates of the B.1.617.2 strain could be up to 50% higher than other variants. These fears have led Germany to impose a two-week quarantine on U.K. visitors, and Austria has banned direct flights from June 1.
However, the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are believed to be effective against the strain.
Historically, the U.K. has the third largest presence on the Croisette after the U.S. and France, with every major British sales agent present.
France is understandably cautious as cases are only now in recession after several difficult months. Cinemas reopened May 19 to capacity, albeit with 35% occupancy allowed for now, which will be increased to 65% on June 9 before being fully lifted on June 30.
The Cannes Film Festival is due to take place July 6-17 and industry members from both the U.K. and France will be hoping that the threat of the new variant is long gone by then, thanks to rapid vaccinations.