The Sundance Film Festival announced Wednesday it will move its in-person Utah elements online this year due to the omicron variant surge.

Festival organizers said in a statement that “despite the most ambitious protocols, the omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country.”

“While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services,” Sundance said.

The festival said the decision was made to keep people safe during the omicron variant’s surge.

The Egyptian’s of the Sundance Film Festival.
The Egyptian’s marquee tells the tale: The Sundance Film Festival will be online only in 2021. | Lee Benson, Deseret News

Sundance planned to take a number of safety measures to keep people safe from COVID-19, including requiring booster shots and limiting any food or drink at the venues, per Variety.

Sundance altered its 2022 event as Utah reported a pandemic high of 7,247 new COVID-19 cases in a single day on Wednesday. “Today represents, by far, the single highest daily case count we have seen during the pandemic. Omicron has changed the landscape since its arrival last month. The number of cases we are reporting today is more than the total number of cases we reported over the first 68 days of the pandemic, combined,” the Utah Department of Health said in a statement.

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The decision to hold events online resembles the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, which had virtual screenings for its films with select physical showings across the country.

The Sundance Film Festival’s cancellation is another sign of how the omicron variant is affecting entertainment events nationwide.

For example, “The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” canceled its show during the omicron surge in December in New York City, per CNBC.

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