New rule for Sundance Film Festival attendees: Get your booster shot

A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is now required to attend the festival events in person.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Foot traffic in front of the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street in Park City on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The 2022 Sundance Film Festival is set to return to Park City in January, after going online-only in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is now required to attend the festival in person.

Anyone going to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in person — whether a filmmaker, volunteer, Sundance employee, movie critic or Hollywood bigwig — must get a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine if they’re eligible, festival organizers say.

The festival’s presenting body, the nonprofit Sundance Institute, announced the update to its vaccination policy Thursday. The institute also announced more comprehensive mask rules, and plans to limit capacity of its venues.

Festival organizers said they are adding these restrictions because of concern over the more-contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus — and the possibility of more COVID-19 cases as a result. Organizers will continue to monitor the virus’ spread, and make more adjustments as needed.

Worries over the omicron variant have already caused Hollywood industry members to change their winter gala plans. The Critics Choice Awards’ ceremony set for Jan. 9 and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards on Jan. 15 both have been postponed. The Palm Springs International Film Society canceled its Jan. 6 Film Awards gala, usually a magnet for stars campaigning for Oscars, because of the national spike in COVID-19 cases; the festival itself will continue.

The institute announced this summer that anyone attending in-person festival events — in Park City, Salt Lake City or at Sundance Mountain Resort, from Jan. 20 to 30 — must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the festival begins. That means having two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Thursday’s announcement added the new booster requirement, if eligible, which means — following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — getting a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna if it’s been at least six months since getting the second shot, or getting a second dose of the J&J vaccine if it’s been at least two months since getting the single dose.

“We urge all who are eligible to receive the booster now,” Sundance officials said in a news release.

People who show proof of vaccination, including the booster, at one of the festival’s verification and testing hubs will receive a wristband to be worn at all times during the festival.

Sundance has teamed with the online vaccine-verification portal PandemSafe to monitor people’s proof of vaccination. People attending Sundance’s in-person events will be required to upload their vaccination card into the PandemSafe portal, via a link sent to their email, which they’ll receive when they buy a ticket.

PandemSafe then will verify the uploaded card within one to two days if it’s been uploaded ahead of the festival, and between 2 to 4 hours if uploaded during the festival time frame. That verification will produce a QR code, which attendees can then use to get their wristband when they arrive at the festival.

Sundance will offer free COVID-19 testing at verification and testing hubs. Employees, volunteers and onsite contractors will be tested at check-in, and midway through the festival, and are encouraged to get tested every 48 hours during the festival. Artists, press and industry members must be tested within 48 hours before arriving, or upon arrival. More testing will be required to participate in private events. Artists must get additional testing if they participate in Q&As, programming and red-carpet lines.

Either PCR or rapid antigen tests will be offered and accepted as proof of a COVID-19 test. Also, any FDA-approved COVID-19 test that displays a valid time and date of the test being taken, and a valid test result, will be accepted.

Three hubs for verification and testing will be open in Park City. They are:

Kearns Bonanza Corner (the old Maverik station), 1635 Bonanza Dr. • Open Jan. 17-30, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Miners Hospital, 1354 Park Ave. • Open Jan. 20-25, 2 to 11 p.m.; Jan 26-30, 6 to 11 p.m.

Galleria Parking Lot, off of Main Street • Jan. 17-30, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Masks will be required in all festival-operated venues, and organizers are encouraging people to keep their masks on indoors when in public places or private, shared spaces.

Theaters will have reduced capacity — the institute won’t announce by how much until closer to the event — and there will be no eating or drinking allowed, removing common excuses to take off one’s mask. The non-theater venues also will be at reduced capacity, and no food or beverages will be allowed in those spaces during public programming.

Four of the festival’s traditional screens won’t be in service in 2022: The Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, which is in the midst of renovation, and three Park City pop-up sites — The MARC in the city’s racquet club, the Park Avenue in the hotel formerly called The Yarrow, and the Temple Theatre that fills the Temple Har Shalom synagogue.

The non-theater venues open for this year’s festival in Park City are: The Craft, where New Frontier installations will be displayed, located at 950 Iron Horse Drive; the Filmmaker Lodge, upstairs at 550 Main; The Box at The Ray, in the basement at 1768 Park Ave.; and The Shop (invitation only), at 1167 Woodside Ave., near the Park City Library.

Movie fans can also stick to attending Sundance virtually, through the online portal, as they did in 2021.