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The Hainan Island International Film Festival, which had been scheduled to begin this weekend, has been postponed.

“In view of the current situation of the new coronavirus epidemic, in order to ensure the health and safety of all participants the 4th Hainan Island International Film Festival, which was originally to be scheduled to be held in Sanya, Hainan from December 3 to 10, 2022 will be postponed. The postponement time will be announced by the organizing committee. We apologize for the inconvenience caused!,” the festival said in a notice posted to its website on Wednesday.

The postponement decision came exactly two weeks after the festival announced its return to in-person operation under the artistic leadership of vastly experienced festival head Marco Mueller.

Hainan Festival postponement notice.

The festival had not unveiled its lineup, but it was expected to include more than 100 films arranged across six sections: Gala, Fest Best, Asian New Directors, Panorama, New Horizons and Classics. Titles will compete for Golden Coconut Awards in at least seven feature film categories, plus a best documentary award and a best short film prize.

There were also to be public screenings in other locations across the island province and an industry sidebar.

Hainan, often considered as China’s tropical beach resort, is promoted as a developing business hub and a gateway for trade and culture. It offers less stringent visa policies for entry and 30-day visa free entry for citizens of 59 countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia and most of the E.U.

Recent rises in the number of COVID cases, however, have now reached all provinces in China. These typically elicit a robust response with lockdowns, isolation and mass testing as part of a policy that aims to eradicate every case. Due to China’s current health and border control policies, foreign visitors were not expected to have been allowed to attend the festival unless they were already resident in China.

On Friday, China reported a nationwide total of 36,061 (symptomatic and asymptomatic combined), fractionally lower than on Thursday, when it noted 37, 612 case. Of those notified on Friday, there were 29 in Hainan with symptoms and a further 62 asymptomatic cases.