Rising Coronavirus Cases Prompt France to Ban Gatherings of More Than 1,000

As the number of coronavirus cases in France rises to 1,126, the country’s health minister has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in confined spaces in an effort to contain the outbreak, which has already caused 19 deaths.

In a televised press conference on Sunday evening, France’s health minister Olivier Véran said some exceptions to the ban will be made for exams, public transportation and demonstrations, among others.

Véran had previously issued a decree on Thursday for indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people until May 31 — a date that was later readjusted to April 15.

Although the minister didn’t provide a timeline for the new 1,000-person ban, it is also believed to be valid until April 15, which raises concerns about several events, such as Series Mania, the international series festival set to run March 20-29 in Lille.

Series Mania organizers said earlier this week that they were not concerned by the ban because they don’t host more than 5,000 people in the same venue simultaneously. In reaction to the decree, the event even issued a letter to delegates saying they were expecting about 3,000 participants, which would allow them to maintain the festival.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Cannes Film Festival, set to kick off May 12, have said they are still pursuing the selection of films and will be unveiling the lineup on April 16. The event said the number of registered participants was up 9% as of Friday.

Along with Italy and Germany, France is one of the countries that has been hardest hit by coronavirus in Europe. The virus outbreak in France has already caused the cancellation of MipTV, the Cannes-set international TV showcase that was meant to run March 30-April 2, while Canneseries, the annual drama festival run in partnership with Reed Midem, has been postponed to debut alongside Mipcom in October.

While the vast majority of the country’s 2,000 theaters are open, many distributors in France — notably Warner Bros., Studiocanal and Le Pacte and Gaumont — have postponed their film releases.

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