rfi– French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot pledged an extra €35 million to bail out museums, cinemas and theatres who have been “stunned” by the extension of Covid-19 restrictions for at least three more weeks.
Speaking on BFM television this Friday, Bachelot described the decision not to reopen museums, cinemas and theatres nextt week as planned because Covid infection rates are not falling as fast as the government had hoped was “a true heartbreak”.
“But if we had reopened on 15 December and shut down again in January, that would have killed the cultural sector,” she added.
Noting that the government had already provided €7.5 billion in aid to the sector, Bachelot said: “I told [Prime Minister Jean Castex] that we would need an extra €35 million to help the sector get through the end of the year. I know I will get that.”
Venues will now reopen in early January, if health conditions permit.
President Emmanuel Macron had said a lockdown imposed at the end of October to tackle the pandemic’s second wave would be partially lifted by 15 December if new infections fell to around 5,000 a day.
New daily infections were 13,750 on Thursday.
Some cultural figures and institutions expressed anger and disappointment at the government’s decision on Friday.
“It is tough to think that shops, planes, trains and supermarkets in France can welcome the public but not cinemas or theatres that have made such efforts to be safe places,” French actor Pierre Niney said on Twitter.
The National Federation of French Cinemas said it was “stunned by this decision taken at the last moment and with no convincing justification”.
But Oscar-winning film director Claude Lelouch, also told BFM TV on Friday: “Health is key. I want to stay positive but I am very sad for all my comrades in the film industry.”