France’s movie theaters will be allowed to re-open from June 22, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced this evening. This is earlier than expected, as French Culture Minister Franck Riester said this week that cinemas were eyeing a July 1 re-start. The decision was made in concert with the industry, Philippe said in a televised address, in order to allow exhibitors and distributors to organize concerted national campaigns. Social distancing measures will be in place, though Philippe did not elaborate.
Riester had noted earlier this week, “Cinemas absolutely must open at the same time in all regions in order to amortize distribution costs and so that the French people know which films are playing.” There is expected to be reduced capacity at screenings, without necessarily a physical separation in the strict sense. Movie theaters have been closed since mid-March throughout the country.
There won’t be any new studio product until July in the avid European major, but a soft June opening should allow for cinema staff and moviegoers to get up to speed with new protocols.
In zones of France which have been identified as “Green,” live theaters will be allowed to open from June 2 with social distancing and masks required. The Ile de France region, which includes Paris, has moved from being a “Red” zone to “Orange,” and particular vigilance will be maintained there, although parks and gardens will be allowed to open from this weekend.
Restaurants, bars and cafés will be allowed to open as of June 2 with social distancing protocols in place across the country, though in Paris only outside seating will be possible before a reevaluation later this month.
France is now entering the second phase of easing coronavirus lockdown measures. The first phase began on May 11 and this one will last from June 2-21. “We are better than where we hoped to be,” said Philippe as he spoke to the nation this evening. “This good news is not the fruit of a miracle, it’s the result of hard work… your vigor and civic mindedness.” However, “it’s not good enough that everything returns to normal.”
Contact sports will still be banned the time being. Museums and monuments can open, but night clubs are to remain closed. Beaches, fitness centers and pools have a green light from June 2.
Philippe added that as regards travel, from June 2 people will be able to journey from their homes to other pars of France with no mileage restriction. There will be a reevaluation on June 15 as to allowing visitors from outside the European Union. Within Europe, the government is “favorable” to opening borders from June 15 with no quarantine.
“Freedom,” Philippe said, “will finally once again become the rule, and restrictions the exception.”