Germany to Put Cinemas Back in Lockdown

Movie Theater
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Theaters, along with restaurants, bars, clubs and concert halls, will shut down starting in November, initially for four weeks.

Germany has followed Italy in shutting down cinemas as a means to stem rising rates of COVID-19 infection.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday announced measures — called "lockdown lite" — that will see cinemas, along with most restaurants, bars, clubs, and concert houses, close their doors, starting Nov. 2. The new restrictions will initially apply for one month, with the government assessing the impact of the measures after two weeks.

Germany shut theaters in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing them to reopen in late May. The news of a second enforced closure came just hours after German film industry organization SPIO warned that another national cinema lockdown would have "dramatic consequences" for the German film industry and exhibition market.

"Exhibitors and the trade organizations have been working for several months to ensure that people have a safe and carefree cinema experience,” said SPIO President Thomas Negele. "To date, there are not any known infections in cinemas anywhere in Germany, not even in corona hotspots."

Ahead of Merkel's announcement, German exhibitors organization HDF Kino had also pleaded with the government for a "differentiated and intelligent approach" to closures that would allow cinemas to stay open.

It was not to be.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's equivalent of the CDC, reported nearly 15,000 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday. Without the strict new measures, Merkel argued, the country could soon have 28,000 new infections a day.

With infection rates rising rapidly across Europe, more cinema closures are expected. Italy shuttered its theaters this week. France is reportedly set to follow suit, perhaps as soon as this weekend.