Omicron: Rotterdam Film Festival Goes Virtual Amid COVID Lockdown

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The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has canceled its in-person event in response to the coronavirus pandemic, announcing Thursday that the 2022 festival in January will be online-only.

The move was expected after the Dutch government put the entire country on lockdown, citing concerns over rising COVID-19 infection rates driven by the omicron variant. The lockdown, which took effect Sunday, Dec. 19, is set to run until at least Jan. 14, 2022.

“Even in the case that the current restrictions are lifted after January 14, the sheer scale of the festival is no longer compatible with a last-minute transition to an in-person event in Rotterdam,” the IFFR said Thursday, explaining the decision to shift the festival online. The 2022 Rotterdam festival kicks off Jan. 26 with the world premiere of Mijke de Jong’s Along the Way.

Omicron fears also prompted the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday to tighten its safety regulations. Organizers said attendees for Sundance 2022 will now be required to have received a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine. The previous requirement was for visitors to be fully vaccinated. All attendees will need to show vaccine status on-site. Sundance also said it was limiting capacity requirements in movie theaters and would require masks to be worn during screenings.

All eyes are now on the Berlin Film Festival, which plans to hold an in-person event starting Feb. 10. Germany will tighten COVID-19 restrictions starting from Dec. 28 but the new measures, for now, will not include closing theaters. Restrictions on large public events, however, could force Berlin to change some aspects of the 2022 festival.

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