As museums, movie theaters and theaters hoped to be able to reopen from December 15, as initially considered by the government, Jean Castex has ultimately said these cultural places will have to stay closed for three more weeks because of the evolution of the coronavirus epidemic in France. Despite protests from players from the sector and a plea filed to the Council of State, the reopening ban is not to be lifted earlier.
This December 17, interviewed by France Inter on the issue, Minister of Culture has intended to clarify the situation. “January 7th is a review clause” Roselyne Bachelot warned. “It could be” the reopening of cultural places, but no date has been set yet, she said before adding: “We are working on it. […] I really do not wish the scenario from the 15th [December] to happen again, when no one heard the health conditions that were set” the minister explained, that then did not guarantee movie theaters, museums and theaters could reopen from January 7. From this date on, health conditions will be reassessed and will say if cultural places can reopen or not.
The minister also told France Inter the ministry was “working on solutions” aiming at changing restrictions depending on the health situation of the area concerned, and have “tailor-made” restrictions. Yet, Mrs. Bachelot intends to remain careful. “Pay attention on the geographical measures: a sector that seems currently protected can become a risky sector very quickly. […] Think we are reopening cultural places in Brittany to close them again in two weeks’ time. This is the most terrible thing for artists” she said.
This past December 11, on BFMTV, Mrs. Bachelot already intended to detail Jean Castex’s statements. January 7 “is not a reopening date” for cultural places, but for an “assessment” of the health situation, she warned. “Culture is essential, but we shall – for sanitary reasons – make it possible to protect ourselves for a few weeks” the Minister of culture justified.
Saying this was “heartbreaking”, Roselyne Bachelot yet added: “what would be terrible for the cultural world is what we call stop&go. Reopening on December 15th to possibly close venues and movie theaters on January 2, 3 or 7, I think we would be assassinating culture”.
Prime Minister’s letter
On Wednesday December 23, Prime Minister Jean Castex admitted it is not possible for now to know when will museums, movie theaters, theaters and other venues reopen. In a letter sent to players from the cultural world and published on his Twitter account, French PM guarantees the government understands “your disarray, your anger and your discouragement. Although, by nature your work requires anticipation, this virus forces us to adapt permanently and prevents us from providing you with this foreseeability.”
Jean Castex goes on: “I know your activity requires months and even years of preparation, conception, rehearsals. I know you were ready to reopen from November 15. We ourselves believed to the very last day in this reopening. But, as soon as indicators deteriorated again, the decision to open would not have been reasonable as it would have been in complete contradiction with the strategy decided and announced as such, and would have exposed us to an obvious risk of epidemic outbreak by a couple of weeks”.
The PM therefore announces that even though cultural players require “foreseeability for the next deadlines and even a firm and definitive reopening date, it would be difficult in the next few weeks to meet your satisfaction on this very issue”.
Au lendemain de mes échanges avec les représentants du cinéma et du spectacle vivant et alors que le Conseil d’État a confirmé les décisions difficiles prises par le Gouvernement, j’ai écrit à ceux qui font vivre la Culture en France.— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) December 23, 2020
L'État a été, est et sera au rendez-vous. pic.twitter.com/bcVx3bL2sC
Tweet reads: “The day after talks with representatives from movie and living performances, as the Council of State has confirmed the difficult decisions made by the government, I wrote to those who make culture live in France. The State has been, is and will be there”.
Another hard blow to people concerned by this extended closure. As the signs of the third wave of Covid-19 are noticeable already, one fears lockdown not to be lifted before long for all cultural places.