French museums, monuments 'first to reopen' when Covid-19 cases decline

Museums and monuments will be the first to reopen when there is a drop in the number Covid-19 cases, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has said. But cinemas, concert halls and theatres are to remain closed until further notice. 

In the front line: French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot and her colleague at the health ministry, Olivier Véran.
In the front line: French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot and her colleague at the health ministry, Olivier Véran. © AFP/Thomas Coex

"I have always said that museums and monuments would be the first to reopen...when we have an improvement," the French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on BFM-TV. "I understand the people who ask me for dates. As soon as there is a possibility, we will do it.

"A museum does not open like you turn on the light in a room," the minister continued. "The directors have told us that it takes between three days for the quickest and 15 days to 3 weeks if we respect...a certain number of procedures.

"So if we have a view of the epidemic over only three to four days, it is not possible. We need visibility over a fortnight," added Bachelot.

The Minister of Culture has brought together the various people responsible for the museums, institutions with very different characteristics, since they include public establishments, municipal museums and private collections, all with different characteristics for reopening.

'Zombies without culture'

On Sunday, infectious diseases expert Eric Caumes pleaded in favour of the reopening of cultural and sports venues, "damaged" because of the Covid-19 epidemic, in the name of the mental health of the French people who are "falling into unhealthy conditions.

 "I think we really need to relaunch all this because we're all falling into difficult situations, we're turning into zombies, without culture, without leisure activities other than those we have at home, without sport," said the head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital on BFM-TV.

Cinemas and theatres will have to wait

Other parts of the cultural sector, especially cinemas and theatres, will have to wait longer.

Bachelot answered the message published on Sunday by French actor Pierre Niney, in which he denounced the closure of theatres when places of worship or department stores are allowed to remain open.

"I hear the frustration of artists," the minister said.

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