The Toronto Film Festival made a last-minute u-turn on its controversial policy which said attendees didn’t have to wear masks

  • On the eve of its first event, the Toronto Film Festival has made a last-ditch U-turn on its controversial policy that would have allowed attendees to remove their face masks while watching films. 
  • Festival organizers took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to tell all attendees that the festival — which is offering both in-person and virtual screenings — will now require all festival-goers to wear face coverings during physical screenings.
  • "As no food or beverage will be consumed on-site," organizers wrote, "TIFF requires that masks are worn for the entirety of the time patrons are in TIFF Bell Lightbox, including while seated during screenings." 
  • A recent surge in new COVID-19 cases in Ontario is the main cause of the rule change, but the festival has also been under pressure from fans and would-be attendees who questioned the relaxed safety protocols.
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On the eve of its first event, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has made a last-ditch U-turn on its controversial policy that allowed attendees to remove their face masks while watching movies.

Festival organizers took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to tell all attendees that the festival — which is offering both in-person and virtual screenings — will now require all festival-goers to wear face coverings during physical viewings at its Bell Lightbox multiplex.

"For those inquiring about TIFF's health and safety protocols for #TIFF20, we've been following public gathering by-laws set by the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials, who we've been working closely with since the start of Festival planning," the first tweet in a thread explained. 

"As no food or beverage will be consumed on-site, TIFF requires that masks are worn for the entirety of the time patrons are in TIFF Bell Lightbox, including while seated during screenings." 

A recent surge in new COVID-19 cases in Ontario is the main cause of the rule change, but the festival has also been under pressure from fans and would-be attendees who questioned the relaxed safety protocols as all the major European film festivals including Venice, Locarno, and San Sebastian, as well as major British and North American cinema chains, had implemented a mandatory face mask policy. 

Siva Swaminathan wrote on Twitter: "Bad move on #TIFF, shame on them over $$ for concession over health and safety of the staff and patrons."

Meanwhile, Jacky Hood called it "concerning."

The Toronto Film Festival is typically viewed as a major pitstop on the awards trail with the festival's People's Choice Award seen as a trusted barometer of what films may play big with audiences in the fall. Last year the award was won by Taika Waititi's WW2 satire, "Jojo Rabbit." 

This year the festival will premiere new films by Regina King, Spike Lee, and the highly anticipated "Ammonite" starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. 

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