Thousands from France's culture sector protest

France: Thousands protest virus restrictions on cultural sector

French theatres, cinemas and other venues said on Saturday they would go to court to force the government to allow them reopen, as the country emerges from its COVID-19 lockdown.

The government has imposed a curfew from 8:00pm to replace the lockdown measures.

The government had said that if it reached 5,000 daily cases by December 15, cultural venues could reopen, but as the country's infection rate remains high, museums, theatres, concert venues and cinemas will remain closed for three more weeks.

Nicolas Dubourg, president of a union representing 400 venues, said he would seek an urgent hearing on the matter from France's highest administrative court: "Our lawyers are busy compiling all the arguments," he told AFP.

Singers, actors and theatre directors have accused the government of "double standards", arguing that socially distanced cultural events are less of a threat than packed shops that have been allowed reopen in the run-up to Christmas.

"We are appalled and disgusted," said Marc-Olivier Sebbag, head of the National Federation of French Cinemas.

Museum managers also expressed dismay over the prolonged shutdown, arguing that exhibitions were highly unlikely to be packed given the near-total absence of tourists during the pandemic.

The vice-president of the foundation that runs the Chateau de Chantilly north of Paris, Christophe Tardieu, described the extended closure as a "staggering blow" for his site.

"Commerce seems preferable to culture," he remarked.

Bars and restaurants will also remain closed until January as France combats a second wave of coronavirus infections.