The New Virus Variant.

By: Frank Cadenhead, November 27, 2021

It was almost funny…. no actually it was laughable. At a Paris press conference at noon on November 25. Minister of Health Olivier Véran assured the performing arts sector that there would be no future closings of public venues and no other restrictions on the size of audiences. He might have been reading a speech written for him a few days ago, before the breaking news of a new virus variant who, most imagine, will have a significant and new impact on public activities.

In an article on the France Musique website, they do quote Michel Franck, director of the Théatre du Champs Elysees, who apparently has been reading the news. “There is indeed a fear, even if the government seeks to reassure us,” he explains. “The worst thing that could happen to us is the closing of the theater. Canceling shows is terrible. When you’ve been working on an opera project for three years and it doesn’t see the light of day, it’s heartbreaking. It would be difficult for the morale and for the health of the performing arts.”

The next day after Mr. Veran made his announcement, the US stock market had its biggest one day drop in over one year. The new upstart virus, now called Omicron, has caused the U.S. to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries starting Monday but other European countries already have made the restrictions effective from Friday. Nobody yet knows the future for certain, but it is likely that this could be a part of a fifth wave which would impact the performing arts in all their public activities. There has been an effort to control the virus and masks and vaccination certificates are required for audiences but it will only be the next week or two before we have any real indication of how this will impact our lives and the performing arts.

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