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German Parliament.
German Parliament.

France to Reopen Cultural Institutions as Germany Contemplates Extended Lockdown

French President Emanuel Macron today announced a two-phase reopening of France’s cultural institutions, while the German parliament is expected to vote to lengthen lockdown in Germany, according to Artnet News. The split reflects the uncertainty that continues to surround the handling of Covid-19 in Europe and globally.

Citing culture as “essential to our lives as free citizens,” Macron in a televised address said that French art galleries, bookstores, record shops, and libraries will be allowed to reopen November 28. Larger institutions, including museums, monuments, and theaters, will reopen December 15. A 9 p.m. curfew will remain in place indefinitely; exceptions will be made for theatergoers on their way home, who will be asked to show their tickets if stopped by the police. The curfew remains a bone of contention, with arts professionals in many fields noting that it bites into evening programming.

Germany is expected to extend its lockdown, which was begun November 2, at least to December 20, and to tighten restrictions in some areas. Under the original lockdown rules, galleries were treated as retailers and ordered to close Though no information is yet available regarding cultural institutions specifically, German vice chancellor Olaf Schulz acknowledged that artists and performers may receive benefits in December. It is additionally expected that bridge loans into 2021 will be offered to cultural institutions.

Speaking yesterday to Berliner Morgenpost, culture minister Klaus Lederer was vague on the subject of museums and galleries reopening. “I would be very pleased if we could at least create the possibility for children and young people to visit a theater or a cultural institution,” he said. 

Meanwhile, in the UK, which officially left the European Union on January 31, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a “toughening” of the tiered reopening system expected to be implemented on December 3. Under the system, in areas deemed to be Tier 3, or at the highest risk, museums and galleries will remain closed. Tier ratings are to be announced on November 26.