France has tightened restrictions on public gatherings, banning all groups of more than 100 people, in an effort to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The move, announced by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday, will have a direct impact on all public activities in France, including cinemas, which have largely remained open during the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking directly to the issue of cinemas, a core part of France’s national culture, Philippe note that the new measures “obviously will have important consequences for theaters, for cinemas. We must keep in mind that our objective is to protect the health of the French. But it is also to preserve the continuity of the life of the nation.”
It is unclear whether the measures will also affect plans for this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Until now, the Cannes Festival has said it is proceeding as planned and will announce its lineup April 16 and hold the 73rd festival as scheduled between May 12-23.
But across Europe, the best-laid plans are being thrown out the window as country after country imposes new, stricter regulations to try and stop the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
On Friday, the English, French and Scottish soccer leagues suspended their seasons amid COVID-19 fears, following similar moves by the NBA and NHL in the U.S. On Wednesday night, U.S. President Trump announced a travel ban for foreign citizens trying to enter the U.S. from most European countries, leading to the cancellation of industry events such as CinemaCon and the L.A. Screenings. South by Southwest and the Tribeca Film Festival are among two of the bigger cinema events to be dropped recently as coronavirus concerns spread.
In a television address to the nation Thursday night, French President Emmanuel Macron called the coronavirus pandemic “France’s worst health crisis in a century” and announced that all schools, universities and daycare centers in the country would close as of Monday.
The new regulations will effectively shut down many cinemas in France, something the local industry had been fighting. Previous restrictions in regions hard-hit by COVID-19 meant some French theaters had to limit screenings to 50 percent capacity, keeping every second row free. Several industry events in France have been canceled, including television festival Series Mania in Lille and Cannes’ MIPTV television market. France’s national cinema center, the CNC, unveiled a series of measures earlier this week aimed at helping out exhibitors, producers and distributors hurt by the coronavirus shutdown.
France has seen its coronavirus infections spike in the past few days, with more than 2,800 confirmed infections and 61 deaths to date.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.