France president Emmanuel Macron said the lockdown will be extended to May 11 in a televised interview on Monday. He said that no festivals or events drawing large crowds will be allowed to take place until at least mid-July. That clearly puts Cannes Film Festival on ice – organizers had been planning to postpone the festival to late June/early July. Another high-profile event threatened by this ban is the Tour de France, the famed cycling race, which is scheduled for June 27-July 19.
Cannes’ organizers said previously that the festival would need to receive the green light from public authorities – the ministry of health, the ministry of the interior, the Alpes-Maritimes regional authority, and the Cannes City Council — in order to postpone the 73rd edition to late June/early July. Deferring the festival later in July or August would be very complicated because Cannes is a popular holiday destination, and sees tourism taking off on July 4; meanwhile the fall festival season is already packed with Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian. Cannes organizers have yet to comment on Macron’s declarations.
The president also said theaters, restaurants and bars, as well as shops, will remain shut beyond May 11. Movie theaters have been closed since March 15. Distributors and producers who had films scheduled to be released in theaters during the country’s quarantine have been allowed by the National Film Board to make them immediately available on transactional VOD and/or DVD. So far, 31 films have benefited from this flexible window release policy.
Macron said additional rescue measures will soon be put in place to help companies in France during the lockdown, and suggested that insurance groups will make some “effort.” Business owners, including film producers, in France have appealed for support in reaching a compromise with insurance firms, which exclude the coronavirus pandemic from their policies and don’t cover operating losses without damages.
Meanwhile, daycare centers and schools will start reopening under specific conditions on May 11, while universities will remain closed. Macron said the health crisis was revealing inequalities in every aspect of daily life under the lockdown. While testing has been scarce in France, Macron said every person presenting symptoms of coronavirus will be able to get tested starting on May 11. The borders of Europe will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time, Macron said.
France, which has been on lockdown since March 17, is one of the hardest hit countries in the world with 98,076 cases of coronavirus, and 14,967 deaths.