France is set to expand the reach of its 9pm to 6am curfew, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, to more than half the country, in response to a further surge in cases of the virus over the past week.
French prime minister Jean Castex announced that another 38 departments would be subject to the measure as of Saturday evening (October 24) at a press conference on Thursday.
Under the move, 54 of France’s 94 departments are now under curfew and some 46million people out of the country’s 66million-strong population are now obliged to be back home by 9pm.
The expansion comes just a week after the government announced the first round of curfew measures for Paris and the Ile-de-France and eight other major cities.
The curfew has been a blow for France’s some 2,000 cinemas because it effectively halts evening screenings, which account for around 40 to 50% of the potential box office.
French exhibitors body La Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Francais (FNCF) has been lobbying for the measure to be softened for cinemagoers so that they can get home after the 9pm cut-off.
Such a dispensation would enable cinemas to run at least one evening screening. So far, the government has turned down the request.
The federation renewed these calls yesterday (October 21) with the support of several other cinema bodies covering other sectors, such as production and distribution.
The entire film industry fears the curfew will do irreparable damage to the country’s exhibition sector, which was already struggling due to the global health crisis.
In the backdrop, Cannes Film Festival has confirmed it will go ahead with its planned 2020 special event in Cannes next week (October 27-29) even though the Alpes-Maritimes department in which the city is situated is now under curfew too.
“Following the new hygiene measures in Cannes, the evening screenings will now start at 6pm instead of 7pm,” said a spokesperson for the festival.