Cannes Quietly Introduces Sanitary Passes as 48-Hour Saliva Tests Cause Headaches For Delegates

The Cannes Film Festival has become a little less stressful for those who are fully vaccinated.

New sanitary passes are slowly being introduced that effectively remove the need to take a salivary RT-PCR test every two days. The purple-bordered passes are available to those who are fully vaccinated (meaning it must be two weeks since the second vaccination or one month since the single-dose vaccine) from the Gare Maritime, which is between the Grand Palais and the RT-PCR testing centre.

One attendant — who reviewed vaccination records and dates extremely thoroughly before issuing the passes — confirmed to Variety what many have observed over the last week: that there were “many problems” with the PCR testing system, which wouldn’t reliably deliver results within the promised six-hour window, and for which desired testing slots weren’t always available due to heavy demand. This added another layer of panic for those rushing to screenings in the Grand Palais, or attend meetings and press conferences within the building.

The attendant said the festival quietly began making the passes available from Wednesday, though it is wisely advising that delegates voluntarily continue taking the salivary tests “for their own safety.”

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There is still confusion from Cannes security at the various Palais entrances about where to get the sanitary passes, but the paper document — which has a barcode and can be attached to the lanyard — appears to now be widely accepted.

Variety has contacted the festival for further details around how the sanitary passes are being rolled out.

The introduction of the passes, though convenient, does pose some questions around how Cannes will monitor COVID-19 cases going forward if the PCR tests are no longer absolutely necessary to get into the Grand Palais.

The festival moved quickly on Friday to kibosh rumours about a rise in COVID-19 cases on the ground. General Secretary Francois Desrousseaux told Variety that there is no COVID-19 cluster at Cannes.

“Out of several thousand people getting testing here on a daily basis, there are an average of three cases per day,” said Desrousseaux, who hammered out protocols with the festival’s organizers, producers and Cannes regional authorities.

However, French president Emmanuel Macron is due to give a televised address on Monday and it’s believed he may introduce stricter restrictions as the Delta variant looks to become the predominant strain in France as early as this weekend.

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