Hong Kong Film Festival postponed due to Omicron outbreak – The Hollywood Reporter

The Hong Kong International Film Festival, scheduled to open on the last day of March, has been postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing wave of COVID-19’s omicron variation.

The decision comes as little surprise given the severity of the city’s current spike in infections. Since February 15, Hong Kong has reported around 5,000 new infections daily, with cases threatening to overwhelm local quarantine and healthcare facilities.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s chief executive said that the government will require the city’s entire population of nearly 7.5 million people to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing by March. Local movie theaters have been closed since early January, and city officials said earlier this week that social distancing measures would be extended until April 20.

The Hong Kong government, acting increasingly respectful of mainland China’s policy, quickly followed Beijing’s “COVID zero” policy of completely eliminating the virus. Although Hong Kong has had great success in managing the early stages of the pandemic, the high transmissibility of the omicron variant has resulted in spiraling plantings since early 2021.

The city’s mandatory three-week quarantine policy for all domestic tourists has ensured that this year’s film festival will be entirely a local affair. Hong Kong Filmart, the influential international content rights market that often runs in tandem with film festivals, chose a few months ago to host a completely virtual conference this year. The online-only filmart will continue with its scheduled dates of March 14-17, according to organizers.

The Hong Kong Film Festival was canceled in 2020 because the pandemic was in its infancy, and last year it took place as a mix of online and offline. With Hong Kong following China’s “COVID zero” policy, many in the industry believe it could be years before the festival can invite the world to see its screenings.

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