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WATCH: Demonstrators occupy French national theaters in anti-Covid lockdown protests

WATCH: Demonstrators occupy French national theaters in anti-Covid lockdown protests
Protesters have occupied three of France’s national theaters in opposition to coronavirus shutdowns, as cultural spaces have remained closed since the country’s lockdown began in October.

The theater occupations come amid growing anger in the country over the continued closure of cultural sites due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, with Pau Theater, Colline Theater and the National Theater of Strasbourg invaded by protesting students.

Last week, thousands of protesters marched across the country on Thursday calling on the French government to allow cinemas, museums, theaters and cultural spaces to reopen with social distancing measures, rather than remain closed indefinitely. 

Over the weekend, France put hundreds of thousands of individuals in the north of the country back into lockdown, raising the number of people under weekend Covid-19 restrictions to two million. 

Alongside the newly added areas, Nice, Dunkirk and the French Riviera have had weekend lockdown measures extended beyond the initial two-week timeframe. These measures are on top of the 6pm-6am curfew that is already in place and the forced closure of non-essential shops.

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“Regional unions have responded and it’s starting to build. They are getting organized,” said Karine Huet, the secretary general of the National Union of Musical Artists in France.

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot visited one of the theaters to speak with the protesters and offered to engage in negotiations, pledging to commit to “the protection of artistic employment for as long as necessary.”

The government is still considering the further imposition of a lockdown in other parts of the country in a bid to contain the virus, with areas such as Paris facing the prospect of running out of intensive care beds.

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