The upcoming Berlin Film Festival is taking precautions to combat the coronavirus, but organizers are insisting that the event will go ahead as planned February 20 – March 1.
Measures being implemented by the festival include equipping all sanitary facilities across the festival and market venues with disinfectant, and creating procedures for employees and attendees to follow should an outbreak occur during the event. The Berlin Institute for Virology and the special isolation unit at the Charité hospital have been earmarked to deal with any emergencies.
Berlin also said that guests from China and other affected regions would be given comprehensive information on arrival by the Robert Koch Institute, the German government agency responsible for disease control and prevention.
Hong Kong Filmart Postponed Due To Coronavirus Fears; Event Moves Two Weeks Before Toronto
The fest added that, in consultation with the Robert Koch Institute, further measures are “under continuous consideration”, depending on the progress of the assessed risk.
A Berlin spokesperson told us today that “a cancellation of the festival is definitely not being considered”.
Today, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which would have run in March and April, has been postponed until the summer due to the virus, the organziers announced. Also today, Asian film market Hong Kong Filmart was postponed from its March dates. While there have been relatively few infections in Hong Kong, the proximity to China made both events a challenge this year.
Yesterday, the Mobile World Congres in Barcelona, which is the largest mobile event in the world and was set to take place Feb 24-27, was cancelled due to fears over the virus. It’s worth noting that this was directly related to major companies pulling out of the event, rather than the organizers being concerned about an outbreak.
As we reported yesterday, Berlin’s industry wing the EFM has seen around 60 cancellations to date, largely from Chinese delegates. There have now also been 13 cancellations from international delegates: two from Sweden, one from Australia, five from Taiwan, one from South Korea, three from Uzbekistan, and one from Japan. The festival has told us it is anticipating further drop-outs but that it did not expect this to add up to a “significant drop” in attendance. To date, no filmmakers have pulled out of the festival.
The coronavirus death toll has risen to 1,380, and the number of infections is rising close to 60,000. At least 25 countries now have confirmed cases and the World Health Organization has called it a “grave threat”.