The Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art (CPGA), France’s gallery association, is suing the French government over recently instituted Covid-19 restrictions that have left galleries closed to the public once again. According to a report by the Art Newspaper, the case, which focuses on the fact that auction houses can conduct exhibitions and sales while galleries must remain shuttered, will be heard in an administrative court on Thursday.
The court is expected to issue a ruling next week, likely in favor of the state. At issue for the CPGA is also the threat that closures pose to the long-term economic viability of commercial art galleries in France. The Art Newspaper reports that a third of the organization’s members lost over half their income last year.
Marion Papillon, who chairs that CPGA, has said that members “issued sanitation guidelines which are strictly respected, and no case of contamination has been related to any gallery or even art fair.”
In a prior statement, the CPGA said that it “denounces a general and absolute ban on art galleries which seriously undermines several fundamental freedoms: both freedom of expression and the free communication of ideas, the freedom of artistic creation and distribution, and the freedom of access to cultural and artistic works.”
The third national lockdown in France is set to last four weeks. President Emmanuel Macron instituted restrictions, which include school closures for at least three weeks, amid rising cases and rapidly filling hospitals.
Before this most recent lockdown went into effect last week, some figures in France were already pushing against pandemic safety measures. In February, Louis Aliot, the right-wing mayor of the southern city of Perpignan, announced that he would let four museums open to the public.