Venice Film Festival to be held under restrictions

The public will not be allowed on the sidelines of the red carpet, masks are obligatory everywhere

The Venice Film Festival, to be held from 2 to 12 September, issued virus safety guidelines on, as organisers hope the oldest such event in the world can maintain its international swing while remaining infection-free. The 10-day festival in the legendary Venice Lido is likely to be one of the festival's most atypical, given the masks and social distancing necessitated by the lingering threat of coronavirus, the AFP reported.

The festival has even taken on greater importance this year as other such events across the glove have the globe have cancelled, including Venice's main competitor, the glamorous Cannes Film Festival on the Cote d'Azur in France. But recent spikes in coronavirus cases around Europe, including in Italy, have raised the stakes for the festival, the first major international film event to be held in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

Festival organisers have already warned that the event will be a more scaled-down affair as thousands of filmmakers, actors, journalists and industry executives are unable to travel due to border restrictions. Still, the prestigious festival, now in its 77th year, will attract hundreds of journalists and a mostly European crowd of guests, including personalities such as Australian actress Cate Blanchett, president of the jury.

Those who arrive from outside Europe's Schengen area will have to submit results of a Covid-19 negative test just before their departure, organisers said, with a second test carried out in Venice. Thermoscanners will be set up at every entrance to the festival, with disinfecting liquid available in all screening rooms, halls and meeting points. Masks are mandatory not only inside theatres but in all outdoor areas.

In a move sure to disappoint star-struck fans, the public will not be allowed on the sidelines of the red carpet, that much watched parade of fashion and finery, which will be reserved for photographers alone. Inside theatres, seats will be alternated to maintain one empty seat between filmgoers.

This year, 18 films are in competition, for a total of 60 features in five different categories and 15 shorts. Fifty countries are represented in the festival.

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