French President Emmanuel Macron announced during a televised address on Wednesday that some cultural venues could reopen in mid-May if pandemic conditions improve.
France is currently coping with the pandemic’s third wave and saw the number of cases skyrocket to nearly 40,000 per day. The number of patients in intensive care units surpassed the peak of the second lockdown last month.
Macron, however, has not placed the country on full lockdown and instead extended the 7 p.m. curfew across France, along with some other restrictive measures. Meanwhile, all schools will shut down beginning April 4 for four weeks, taking into account two weeks of school holidays. Shops deemed non-essential will also shut down.
As for cultural venues, Macron said that some of them could reopen between mid-May and mid-June, along with cafés and restaurants.
Cinemas have been shut down in France since late October when the second wave kicked off. In 2020, cinemas were closed for a total of 23 weeks. More than 400 French and foreign films are awaiting a theatrical release, according to Helene Herschel, the general delegate of the National Federation of Film Editors (FNEF), who spoke to Le Monde newspaper.
The government previously announced a three-part scheme for the reopening of cinemas, which would start with a 35% cap on auditorium’s capacities for four weeks, then a 50% cap for one month.
As Europe’s biggest nation of moviegoers, France also boasts the largest number of cinema screens per capita and sees the release of approximately 700 titles in a normal year.
Organizers for the Cannes Film Festival, meanwhile, recently confirmed the summer dates of July 6-17 for the 74th edition with Spike Lee set to preside over the jury of the competition. Last year’s festival was canceled due to the pandemic.
While it’s unlikely the pandemic will be anywhere near finished in France by early July, the prospect of a quicker vaccine rollout in the months to come could bring out some optimism. During his televised address, Macron said vaccines will start being available to all people under 50 starting in mid-June. So far, only about 8 million people — roughly 11% of the population — have been given the first dose of the vaccine.