COVID-19 Protocols for TIFF 2021

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Festival Covid-19 Protocols

As of September 7, 2021. Please note that TIFF may change these protocols at any time to protect the health and safety of all of its audiences in accordance with government guidelines and legal allowances.

As we look forward to welcoming public audiences, talent, press, and industry back to the Toronto International Film Festival and the city of Toronto, we are working closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe opening of our TIFF Festival venues. In order to mitigate risk to audiences and guests attending TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival has put in place the following health and safety protocols. To assist those travelling to Canada, we are also providing an overview of information about vaccination rates and Government of Canada requirements to enter the country.

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Government Information and Vaccination Rates

Canada has taken a characteristically cautious approach throughout the pandemic, which has allowed us to reach a point of safety conducive to hosting an international festival. We reopened slowly, allowing time to reach a high vaccination rate, while still maintaining general COVID-19 safety protocols, including indoor masking and social distancing.

In Toronto, we have now reached Ontario’s Stage 3 of reopening, which allows for the Festival to take place in person while still mitigating risks. Canada is one of the safest places to visit, with the lowest case rate per 100,000 in the North America. Weekly case counts data is available on the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 webpage.

As of September 7, 76.9% of Canada’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Toronto boasts one of the highest percentages of fully vaccinated citizens in North America with 77% of the eligible population completed as of the same date.

The Government of Canada opened its borders to non-essential travel from US citizens and permanent residents on August 9 and intends to open to citizens of any country on September 7, provided that:

  • The domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable
  • Visitors have been fully vaccinated with Government of Canada–approved vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD) at least 14 days prior to entering Canada

While quarantine is not required, travellers must also:

  • Meet the pre-entry test requirements
  • Provide a digital copy of vaccination documentation
  • Provide COVID-19–related information electronically through the ArriveCAN app prior to arrival in Canada
  • Provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine in case border agents determine they do not meet the necessary requirements
  • Be asymptomatic upon arrival
  • Participate in random COVID-19 testing

Those meeting these requirements can cross the border into Canada without having to quarantine, including the elimination of the three-night hotel quarantine policy. These government measures now in place will allow TIFF to welcome a portion of its traditional volume of international press, industry, and talent back to Toronto to be a part of the Festival. Additional Border information is available on the Government of Canada’s Travel and Tourism website.

TIFF continues to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number-one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival audiences, talent, press and industry, and residents of the community.

To help ensure the safest possible experience, TIFF has once again partnered with Medcan, a global health care leader providing medical expertise, consultation, and health inspiration to achieve its mission to help people “Live Well, For Life.” Based on the pillars of evidence-based care, exceptional client service, and the latest in technology, Medcan’s team of over 90 physicians supports employee health care across the continuum of health, including its “Safe at Work System,” which helps organizations navigate the pandemic.


Public Audiences COVID-19 Protocols

Beginning on September 9, 2021, Festival staff, audience members or visitors entering TIFF Festival venues from September 9 to 18 will be required to either show proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to entering any TIFF venue.

TIFF Festival venues include TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, the Cinesphere Imax Theatre and the West Island Open Air Cinema at Ontario Place. This protocol does not extend to the Visa Skyline Drive-In and RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place where audiences will be in their cars.

In addition to proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID test, masks are required at all TIFF Festival venues. Audience members and visitors will not be permitted entry into the venue without a mask. Where an audience member or visitor is unable to wear a mask due to health reasons, TIFF will provide them with a face shield as an alternative. If the audience member or visitor does not wish to wear a face shield, they will be denied entry into the venue and will be given a refund for their ticket. At drive-ins and the open-air theatre, audience members will be required to wear masks when outside of their vehicle or seating pod.

Indoor theatres will open, at minimum, one hour prior to the start of the screening to reduce lineups and to allow for distanced entry into the venue. Drive-ins and the West Island Open Air Cinema will open two hours prior to screenings. Vehicles must be in their assigned parking spot 15 minutes prior to the screening start time. All audience members and visitors must exit the venue directly after the screening as directed by TIFF’s Front of House staff and ushers.

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof of negative COVID test within 48 hours of attendance is required to gain entry into Festival venues. Proof includes a vaccination receipt administered by Ontario Health or your local health care provider, OR results of a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) or Rapid Antigen test completed within 48 hours of the ticketed event. Proof can be in email form, on a mobile device, or via hard copy. The information must include your full name and the date of the vaccination or test. Ontario residents will have received confirmation of their first and second dose via email or mail. If confirmation was received by email, please search “Dose Administration” to find it on a mobile device; if received by mail, please bring a copy with you on the day and time of your event. For all other residents, please bring your version of this update. This might be a vaccine passport or card or an email from your province, state, or country.
  • Visitors from outside of Canada are already required to show evidence of being fully vaccinated to enter the country.
  • Anyone who is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, runny nose, tiredness, or shortness of breath, are NOT permitted to enter TIFF Festival venues.
  • There will be no printed tickets or passes; access to all TIFF Festival venues will require a mobile ticket.
  • There will be no rush ticketing or lineups at any TIFF Festival venues.
  • There will be no concessions sold at indoor TIFF Festival venues. Outside food and beverages are not permitted. The drive-ins are the exception.
  • At drive-ins, it is not permitted for any audience members to exchange items with another vehicle or to leave their vehicle for any reason, other than for concessions, to use the washroom, or in case of an emergency.
  • At the West Island Open Air Cinema, it is not permitted for any audience members to exchange items with anyone outside of their seating pod or to leave their section for any reason, other than for concessions, to use the washroom, or in case of an emergency.

We encourage audience members to wash and disinfect their hands often — especially before entering and exiting the venues, after contact with others, and after touching surfaces that others may have touched.

To help prevent the spread and transmission of COVID-19, TIFF is committed to:

  • Providing access to hand sanitizers
  • Encouraging physical distancing
  • Wiping down and disinfecting surfaces
  • Conducting regular clearing in high-traffic areas

For any additional COVID-19 protocol–related questions, please contact TIFF Customer Relations at customerrelations@tiff.net.

TIFF Festival Venues & Events Information for Public Audiences

TIFF Festival venues include TIFF Bell Lightbox and marquee venues the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall, Scotiabank Theatre, and the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre at Ontario Place, plus outdoor screening venues at Ontario Place Festival Village, including the Visa Skyline Drive-In, the RBC Lakeside Drive-In, and the West Island Open Air Cinema.

Public digital screenings will be programmed on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox for the accessibility of Festival-goers, but are limited to Canadian audiences and to Festival time and date release windows (a four-hour window to watch films). The TIFF Bell Digital Talks platform will host a variety of Public talks, including the In Conversation With… talks series.


Talent, Rights Holders, Press and Industry COVID-19 Protocols

Beginning on September 9, 2021, Festival staff, audience members or visitors entering TIFF Festival venues from September 9 to 18 will be required to either show proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to entering any TIFF venue.

TIFF Festival venues include TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, the Cinesphere Imax Theatre and the West Island Open Air Cinema at Ontario Place. This protocol does not extend to the Visa Skyline Drive-In and RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place where audiences will be in their cars.

Masks are required at all TIFF Festival venues. Audience members and visitors will not be permitted entry into the venue without a mask. Where an audience member or visitor is unable to wear a mask due to health reasons, TIFF will provide them with a face shield as an alternative. If the audience member or visitor does not wish to wear a face shield, they will be denied entry into the venue and will be given a refund for their ticket. At drive-ins and the open air theatre, audience members will be required to wear masks when outside of their vehicle or seating pod.

Indoor theatres will open, at minimum, one hour prior to the start of the screening to reduce lineups and to allow for distanced entry into the venue. Drive-ins and the West Island Open Air Cinema will open two hours prior to screenings. Vehicles must be in their assigned parking spot 15 minutes prior to the screening start time. All audience members and visitors must exit the venue directly after the screening as directed by TIFF’s Front of House staff and ushers.

  • Proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof of negative COVID test within 48 hours of attendance is required to gain entry into Festival venues. Proof includes a vaccine passport or card or an email from your province, state, or country, OR results of a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) or Rapid Antigen test completed within 48 hours of the ticketed event. Proof can be in email form, on a mobile device, or via hard copy. The information must include your full name and the date of the vaccination or test completion.
  • Visitors from outside of Canada are already required to show evidence of being fully vaccinated to enter the country.
  • Media outlets who are invited to attend red carpets and who will be interacting with talent on the carpet will be required to wear a mask, be tested every 48 hours and provide proof of a negative COVID test.
  • Anyone who is sick or has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, runny nose, tiredness, or shortness of breath, are NOT permitted to enter TIFF Festival venues.
  • There will be no printed tickets or passes; access to all TIFF Festival venues will require a mobile ticket.
  • There will be no rush ticketing or lineups at any TIFF Festival venues.
  • There will be no concessions sold at indoor TIFF Festival venues. Outside food and beverages are not permitted. The drive-ins are the exception.
  • At drive-ins, it is not permitted for any audience members to exchange items with another vehicle or to leave their vehicle for any reason, other than for concessions, to use the washroom, or in case of an emergency.
  • At the West Island Open Air Cinema, it is not permitted for any audience members to exchange items with anyone outside of their seating pod or to leave their section for any reason, other than for concessions, to use the washroom, or in case of an emergency.

We encourage audience members to wash and disinfect their hands often — especially before entering and exiting the venues, after contact with others, and after touching surfaces that others may have touched.

To help prevent the spread and transmission of COVID-19, TIFF is committed to:

  • Providing access to hand sanitizers
  • Encouraging physical distancing
  • Wiping down and disinfecting surfaces
  • Conducting regular clearing in high-traffic areas

For any additional COVID-19 protocol–related questions from Talent, Rights-Holders, Press & Industry, please contact Laura Ryan, Vice President, Operations and Event Production at lryan@tiff.net.

TIFF Festival Venues & Events Information for Talent, Rights Holders, Press and Industry

As a result of the opening of the border and increased capacities in cinemas in Ontario, TIFF has added to its list of venues to accommodate a number of additional in-person Public and Press & Industry screenings.

TIFF Festival venues include TIFF Bell Lightbox and marquee venues the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall, Scotiabank Theatre, and the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre at Ontario Place, plus outdoor screening venues at Ontario Place Festival Village, including the Visa Skyline Drive-In, the RBC Lakeside Drive-In, and the West Island Open Air Cinema. Press & Industry screenings will be held at the Scotiabank Theatre and TIFF Bell Lightbox. Public in-person screenings will have limited Press & Industry access.

Films will be available to press and industry at TIFF Festival venues where government health and safety guidelines will be strictly enforced. Currently, those guidelines have social distancing measures in place, including a set capacity in each cinema, with masks required to be worn at all times.

Continuing to provide high-profile publicity opportunities, TIFF red carpets will take place inside Roy Thomson Hall and the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and all government-mandated social distancing measures will be in place. Any step and repeats will have limited access and will take place indoors or in designated secure locations. Red-carpet access for media outlets will be by invitation only and will be extremely limited.

The TIFF Digital Cinema Pro platform will host digital Press & Industry screenings with a 48-hour screening window, as well as the TIFF Industry Selects and Market screenings for industry buyers. Films available to press and industry on TIFF Digital Cinema Pro will be accessible to delegates worldwide; however, some exceptions may occur where the film rights holders have not authorized an online screening in selected regions. The TIFF Bell Digital Talks platform will host a variety of Public and Press & Industry talks, including the In Conversation With… talks series, the Industry Conference, and press conferences.

Over 1,400 journalists have been accredited and we anticipate 4,000 members of the industry will be accredited for this year’s Festival.

While TIFF does not have any plans to host major parties, receptions or dinners for TIFF 2021, hosting of Festival-adjacent events and gatherings are allowed, while abiding by the government-mandated public health and social distancing measures.


Talent, Studios, and TIFF Executive Testing Protocols

TIFF will identify talent who will be in the country for more than 48 hours to do a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test and schedule them for a PCR test at our health care partner, Medcan, within 72 hours of their arrival and additionally every 48 hours until their departure. Talent will be required to wear a mask at all times at TIFF Festival venues and in TIFF-provided vehicles. The only exceptions include when talent are on the red carpet and on stage.

In addition to talent, TIFF Executives will be scheduled at Medcan for PCR testing every 48 hours. All staff at TIFF Festival venues with whom talent will have close interaction (TIFF photographers, TIFF drivers, TIFF venue liaisons, TIFF programmers, TIFF red carpet and TIFF backstage teams) will be required to take a Rapid Antigen Test every 48 hours with a negative result and wear a three-layered, non-medical mask. Wristbands will be provided to these staff members for clear identification.

These tests will be carried out free of charge with the option of transportation arranged by TIFF to and from the testing site.

Artistic teams are asked to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled photo call time with proof of a negative PCR test. It is requested that the date of collection of the test be less than 48 hours prior so that the test can be valid for the duration of the public presentation of the film at the Festival.

Any person without a valid PCR test document will not be able to accompany the teams to present their film. Any person who, following a rapid nasopharyngeal PCR test, is found to be positive, will not be able to follow the teams to the presentation.

As an exception to the general rule to wear masks: during public appearances (camera calls, press conferences, red carpet, stage presentations, ceremonies) and exclusively at such times, artistic teams may, under the conditions defined in this document, remove their masks on condition that a minimum distance of two metres or six feet is observed indoors.

As the two-metre distance cannot be always respected in the green room or backstage due to the size of the stage, teams will have to:

  • Either limit the number of participants to four people, or Wear the mask to the greenroom, stage or red carpet and remove it only when speaking or posing for photos
  • Wherever possible, we request that the number of people accompanying participants be kept to a minimum, with a maximum of 20 people for camera calls, red carpets, backstage and green-room areas. The maximum number of people for the stage area will be 10 participants on stage, including TIFF Executives.

For any additional COVID-19 protocol–related questions from Talent, Rights-Holders, Press & Industry, please contact Laura Ryan, Vice President, Operations and Event Production at lryan@tiff.net.


To help ensure a safe and comfortable experience, TIFF has once again partnered with Medcan to seek guidance from its Medical Advisory Services team. In addition to providing this type of support for organizations navigating the pandemic, Medcan inspires its clients to live well for life by offering access to in-person and virtual services ranging from year-round medical care, health assessments, fitness, nutrition, genetics, mental health, dermatology, and more. their exceptional team of health experts leverages evidence-based insights and practices along with innovative technology to provide personalized care that enhances everyday wellness and helps clients navigate their life-long well-being journey.

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