Cannes pushes on, outlines contingency plans

Cannes Lions has announced that it is still scheduled to take place, as planned, from 22 to 26 June, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It explained that this decision was based on the advice from the city of Cannes, authorities and World Health Organisation. The French authorities also told Cannes Lions that the current ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 individuals will be lifted on 15 April.

Nonetheless, the organisers have also worked closely with the Mayoral office of Cannes and the French authorities to secure alternative dates of 26 to 30 October, if changing circumstances require the event to be postponed. Cannes Lions added that it will make the call to postpone no later than 15 April and will share weekly updates ahead of any announcement date. In a press statement, Cannes Lions clarified that should the event be postponed to October, all passes, sponsorship arrangements and bookings would roll over and remain valid. 

Simon Cook, managing director, Cannes Lions, said all of its plans are proceeding as scheduled. "However, as the global situation is evolving constantly, we want to be open about our contingency plans. We have consulted with our customers and partners and have prepared accordingly by putting measures in place to allow flexibility, should we need it. As always, the safety of all those involved is our utmost priority, and any decision we take will reflect this," he explained.

While Cannes Lions has outlined a contingency plan, other events have taken a harsher stance. Recently, interactive media festival South by Southwest (SXSW) was cancelled for the first time in 34 years due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases globally. Scheduled to be held in Austin, Texas, the City of Austin said it is now working through "the ramifications of this unprecedented situation". The organisers added that they are now  exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU.

Other events that have been forced to cancel as a result of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation was Adobe's annual Summit/Imagine 2020, which will be hosting the event as an online experience this year. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was also cancelled after an exodus of firms due to global concern regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.