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Was the BAFTA weekend behind the rise in industry COVID cases? – The Hollywood Reporter

At the beginning of the Oscar week, the Best Picture race, which now appears to be two horses, takes place The power of the dog and KODAOne of the biggest talking points is how an apparent COVID-19 outbreak may affect the process during BAFTA weekend.

With the Producers Guild of America nominated for breakfast on Saturday, much of the excitement was devoted to a reported surge in London.

A source tells THR that the BAFTA weekend cluster has scared off some talent and filmmakers unwilling to risk testing positive ahead of the March 27 Oscars. “People are going to be very cautious,” the insider says of pre-Oscar celebrations, though that may only apply to those who’ve been to the BAFTAs.

Another source, who tested positive for COVID just days after attending the BAFTA ceremony and various surrounding events, says: “It appears the weekend may have been a super spreader event.”

The British Academy has said it has no comment, but the news comes as Britain is experiencing a surge in COVID cases, with an estimated 3.28million people – 1 in 21 in the country – testing positive for the coronavirus in the week to March 12, the day before the BAFTA ceremony.

One of those who tested positive after attending the BAFTA ceremony was Belfast Director and Producer Kenneth Branagh, who was among the 10 speakers on the PGA’s annual breakfast panel. No explanation was given as to why Branagh attended virtually – he certainly looked fine – but later in the evening, THR confirmed the filmmaker has tested positive in recent days.

Branagh wasn’t the only one at BAFTA Belfast Team infected with the virus. Co-star Ciarán Hinds has also tested positive, as have a handful or more of other people connected to the film. At the moment Branagh – who THR understands he only attended the BAFTA ceremony in London – is isolating in New York, where he landed after the BAFTAs on Tuesday and was told to take a PCR test after several other teammates tested positive. (He, like others flying to New York, had initially tested negative when taking an antigen test required for entry into the United States).

Others include Chris Lord and Phil Miller, who received the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Animated Feature Award The Mitchells vs. the machines from a hotel room on Wednesday after testing positive. Both were in London just days before for the BAFTAs, where the film was nominated. THR a lot of people have heard that The Mitchells vs. The Machines The team contracted COVID-19 and contacted Netflix.

THR also learned that members of the National Geographic team have traveled to London for their nominated documentary The rescueand later tested positive.

Don’t look up Producer Kevin Messick, another PGA Breakfast panelist, ended up attending virtually at the last minute instead of in person. He was also in London for the BAFTAs. A representative for Messick could not be immediately reached for comment.

Insiders at Hollywood studios, smaller indie companies with BAFTA-nominated films, and various advertising teams all say they know people — talent, executives, PRs, and journalists — who after attending the ceremony and attendant parties have tested positive. “Literally everyone I speak to right now says they have it,” says one.

So many THR has pointed out that there have been a number of hot-ticket events that could have been driven by this surge, not to mention the travel involved. In addition to the BAFTA ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on March 13, there was a BAFTA nominations party on March 12, as well as an AMPAS nominations party earlier that day (one person reportedly caught COVID after only attending the AMPAS event had) and later that evening a Chanel dinner. After the ceremony, there were a number of post-BAFTA parties for those who managed to get an invitation, including the official BAFTA dinner and party at Grosvenor House, as well as late-night parties hosted by Amazon, MGM, Warner Bros, and Netflix were hosted. “One person I know who got it was at seven different parties,” said a publicist who also contracted COVID-19 (though not believed to be connected to BAFTA weekend) .

It should be noted that every single BAFTA weekend event THR is aware of the required proof of a negative antigen test (which could be self-administered) for entry, with guests literally being asked to show their tests as they step out of their cars at the BAFTA ceremony. However, there was no mask requirement anywhere, although many of those working in the Royal Albert Hall and on the red carpet wore masks.

It should also be noted that these rules went beyond current government guidelines, as UK authorities essentially scrapped all COVID restrictions over the last month (a hugely controversial decision that many attribute to the current nationwide spike).

However, recent award shows in the US, including the PGA Awards, require both proof of vaccination and a PCR test.

The Oscars go even further and require two PCR tests for press and contestants. Presenters and cast members do not need to be vaccinated, but must undergo rigorous testing. The press must wear masks on the red carpet, as must those who are not in the orchestra. Rows of seats will also be removed to ensure social distancing.

While the BAFTA weekend breakout may have resulted in some absences from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the PGA Awards, the two-week gap leading up to the Oscars might actually have some perks.

As an insider suggests, “My guess is no one gets it [COVID-19] at the Oscars because they all had really strong antibodies up until then.”

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