“A Particularly Painful Decision”

By Frank Cadenhead, December 20, 2020

Tonight’s televised announcement of the French Prime Minister was another blow to the performing arts. The bad news came although the government’s Coronavirus control efforts were aggressive and it was working. Masks are a requirement in any public place and permission to leave your home had to be formally declared and only authorized for vital activities like work, doctor appointments and to seek food or drugs. Gatherings could not exceed six persons. The second wave of the Covid-19 infection rate was turning downward (unlike the present US rate, which is three times higher and growing) but was still above the desire goal.

PM Jean Castex ordered this confinement and mask requirement to continue for the next three weeks, until January 7. Theaters and concert halls, along with movie theaters and sports stadiums, will continue to be shuttered, even though some orchestras, operas and ballet companies were in rehearsals expecting to open in a few days. Castex recognized that this was “a particularly painful decision” for all affected and he was certainly more aware than most of how the impact would be felt. Before President Macron made him prime minister on July 3, he was mayor of Prades, not far from the Spanish border. That small town happened to be the home of the Pablo Casals Festival every summer and he was chairman and actively involved in all facets of the festival. He certainly would be acutely aware of the impact the festival closure would have on the artists and staff and even the mere existence of the festival.

The hope is that infections continues to decline and that, by the January date, France can continue to return to normal and live performances again be on the menu.

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