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Shadow of new Covid variant on Oscar celebrations

Organisers are taking precautions to prevent the 2022 Academy Awards from being a super-spreader, as other awards shows and film festivals have proven to be in the pandemic era.


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 March 2022 8:09 AM GMT

Organisers are taking precautions to prevent the 2022 Academy Awards from being a super-spreader, as other awards shows and film festivals have proven to be in the pandemic era.

Attendees will have to show two negative PCR tests and be fully vaccinated in order to attend the festivities. On Friday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences updated its COVID protocols and rules, announcing that people "..who tested positive for Covid and are within a zero to five-day window from the date of their first positive test, are not permitted to attend under any circumstances." There's a reason that the rules are so stringent, reports 'Variety'.

This year's Academy Awards kicks off as Covid infections are once again on the rise. On Thursday, public health officials announced that cases of BA.2, the new and highly contagious sub-variant of omicron, climbed 130 per cent in a week, though cases remain low. Adding to the unease is the fact that the BAFTA Awards on March 13 appears to have been a variable Petri dish with studios privately reporting that dozens of executives contracted Covid at the event — stars such as Kenneth Branagh and Ciaran Hinds and 'The Mitchells vs. the Machines' producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who appeared at the show, also came down with the virus, reports 'Variety'.

Add to that the spread of Covid at recent industry events such as, where 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' star Michelle Yeoh tested positive for coronavirus after the film premiered at the Texas festival. Some nominees are concerned that their recent bouts with Covid will prevent them from making the trip to the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars are handed out.

Jamie Dornan recently told Variety at the Oscar Wilde Awards on Thursday that he's hoping his 'Belfast' compatriots will be on hand. "I can't even imagine going on Sunday night without those guys," Dornan said.

Don't be surprised if Oscar co-hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall deliver some Covid quips as a way of acknowledging the pandemic elephant in the room.

But the Oscars are but one stop on a long and boozy jaunt around Los Angeles on Sunday.

Winners, nominees, power brokers and press hop from the Governor's Ball to the Vanity Fair party to soirees hosted by the likes of Apple, Neon and Warner Bros

That kind of marathon socialising could lead to more exposures. Several party and event planners tell Variety that they're sticking to their protocols for now — most are requiring guests to show that they are full vaccinated (with booster, that is) and provide proof of negative test within 48 hours of the event.

However, none of the events have a mask mandate and the Oscars are only recommending that guests wear masks.

"People in Hollywood are willing to go to parties and possibly contract Covid because they don't think it's a big deal," one party planner said.

The entertainment industry has grown hopeful that the virus is fading at various points, only to have Delta and Omicron emerge as painful reminders that the credits have yet to roll on the highly contagious disease. A month ago, cases seemed to be falling and the business appeared poised to celebrate a return to normalcy. Now, that festive spirit is tinged with those old feelings of anxiety and unease that have been so pervasive over the last two years. "It's not over," one Oscar attendee told Variety. "We may wish COVID was finished, but it's not done with us yet." (IANS)

Also Read: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to appear at the Oscars?

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