With no clear timeline for a successful COVID-19 vaccine in sight, the government of France has decided to begin allowing indoor events under 5,000 attendees to move forward without social distancing measures in place. The news was announced by French Prime Minister Jean Castex in a recent interview with France Inter.
The mandate applies to parts of France that aren’t deemed as “red zones” – areas where newly confirmed infections are spiking, such as Paris and Lyon. Those cities and other red zone areas will retain the previously mandated social distancing guidelines, and events that exceed the 5,000-person capacity will remain banned until at least November, according to the French government.
The new guidelines come just under one month after France’s scientific council warned of a potential second wave of infections, and following Parisian techno festival Possession‘s controversial August event that saw Amelie Lens play out to a crowd of what appeared to be hundreds of people, with no clear social distancing in practice.
According to reports, France recorded over 3,300 new COVID-19 infections on August 25th alone, and around 10,000 total new infections countrywide in the past three days.
France’s decision makes it the first major music market to roll back its social distancing guidelines and prepare for the return of major live events. The government also plans to pump €2 billion into its arts and culture sector to help mitigate losses suffered during lockdown measures, and potentially encourage the return of more events.
“I say to the French people, go to the cinema, go to the theatre – you don’t risk anything,” said Prime Minister Castex. While some may dispute that statement, the effects of the new guidelines will remain unclear until some time has passed and large-scale events in France begin taking place once again.
With many promoters, artists, and partygoers still on the fence about returning to non-socially distanced gatherings – and others taking hardline stances on either side of the issue – only time will tell if the opportunity to hold mass gatherings in France will be taken, and whether or not negative consequences will arise from it.
Image credit: Sarthak Navjivan