French Cultural Venues Could Reopen Mid-May, Says President Emmanuel Macron

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.