As a second wave of coronavirus cases surge in Europe, cultural institutions in Germany and France once again face the possibility of extended closures. On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a new round of restrictions on public spaces in their respective countries that led to the shuttering of some major institutions.
In a bid to curb the spread of the virus in France, where daily cases surpassed 50,000 over the weekend, Macron reimposed a national lockdown on all nonessential businesses, including museums. The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay announced via Twitter that they would remain closed until further notice.
And in Germany, where 15,000 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country on Wednesday, coronavirus restrictions will come into effect on November 2. The four-week partial shutdown includes restaurants, bars, and cinemas, though the plan does not mention a requirement to close for museums. Commercial art galleries, which are classified as retail outlets, will remain open with limited visitor capacity.
“We have to act in order to avoid an acute national health emergency,” Merkel said in a statement.
Individual German states are required to adhere to the national rules, though they have also been given the latitude to implement their own interpretations of the restrictions. Some, such as Baden-Württemberg, have chosen to shutter their museums. Others, wary of the financial peril a second lockdown promises, have yet to announce further restrictions on the cultural sector.
“If museums are affected by a new closure, then this would be a serious blow which would have to be compensated for,” the German Museums Association said in a statement.
Germany and France are not the first countries in Europe to see museum closures in the past month. In Belgium, which has experienced a similar spike in new cases, museums and public galleries in the capital city Brussels were ordered closed until November 19.
Elsewhere, a fear of institutional closures looms. This week, Spain declared a national state of emergency; new restrictions were put in place to combat the steady rise in cases. The Italian government has also announced new lockdown measures. Museums in both countries are allowed to remain open. Sweden’s Moderna Museet will close its locations in Stockholm and Malmö for three weeks starting Friday evening in response to new recommendations from the Swedish Public Health Agency against visiting public institutions such as museums.