France’s culture sector mobilises over continued closures as Covid-19 lockdown lifts

France emerges from its second Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday. But with new daily coronavirus infections still high above the government’s 5,000-a-day objective, the easing will not look like it did in May. An 8pm-to-6am curfew goes into effect, except for Christmas Eve, and cultural venues remain closed, sparking anger in the sector.

As the second lockdown lifts, theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and sporting venues remain closed, at least until January 7 – after a holiday season that, while lucrative for the culture sector normally, has authorities concerned festive gatherings this year will spur further the spread of the novel coronavirus.

French authorities justified keeping the venues shuttered in order to “avoid increasing public crowd flows, concentrations, and intermingling”, but the decision has irked the culture sector in France after a difficult year.

Culture professionals and labour unions say the continued closures are a death blow for the sector, calling for all cultural venues to be allowed to reopen. To get the message across, they are organising demonstrations across France on Tuesday.

In Paris, the CGT Spectacle union has called for a gathering at the Place de la Bastille at noon, calling on theatre, cinema and audiovisual staff to denounce “the government’s yoyo policy” .

Another demonstration organised by actors Jacques Weber, Audrey Bonnet and François Morel is slated for Paris late in the day in front of the Théâtre de l’Atelier in Montmartre.

The battle to reopen for business is also set for the courts. Unions and artists have said they are appealing to the Conseil d’État, the country’s top administrative court, in emergency proceedings similar to those filed recently by the restaurant and ski resort sectors.

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Several hundred theatre and theatre company directors from across France have put out a call to support the legal proceedings.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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