Europe

Unfazed by virus, Parisians throw off their masks for mid-summer music festival

Issued on: 22/06/2020 – 16:26Modified: 22/06/2020 – 16:26

Social distancing and face masks were largely forgotten as thousands of French people danced and partied well into Monday in the first big blow out since the coronavirus lockdown.

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The annual midsummer Festival of Music usually brings millions of people out onto the streets across the country for impromptu concerts in cafes and on street corners that go on long into the night.

And despite emergency measures that ban gatherings of more than 10 people, thousands thronged the trendy Canal Saint Martin and the Marais districts of Paris late Sunday to dance and sing along to bands and DJs.

Not even heavy showers could dampen spirits, with few beyond those serving spicey merguez sausages from street stalls bothering to wear masks.

“The Festival of Music is important, it's a national event,” 28-year-old reveller Violette told AFP as she boogied to a band in northern Paris.

And she laughed at the idea that people would be strictly respecting social distancing.

“Not at all,” she said.

Authorities too lax

But many who watched the crowds on the streets were horrified, taking to social media to voice fears of a second wave of infections.

“What a brilliant idea! A Festival of Music just as we are going out of a major health emergency,” one Twitter user commented.

Although none of the usual big set-piece extravaganzas were held beyond what French electronic music legend Jean-Michel Jarre had billed as the world's first live virtual “avatar” concert, many felt the authorities had been too lax.

A senior doctor at the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, where many Covid-19 sufferers are still being treated, criticised the decision to let the festival go ahead.

“This is not what a gradual end to the lockdown looks like,” said Dr. Gilbert Deray.

“I understand that the Festival of Music is something of a liberation, but did we really have to have it this year?”

Cinemas reopen

Cinemas also reopened in France on Monday for the first time since the lockdown began in March.

The 5 Caumartin cinema in Paris opened one minute after midnight for a red-carpet chaRead More – Source

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