News from France / May 2021

Updated: Jun 20



On the 30th of April, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron detailed the timetable for the end of lockdown and resumption of activities in certain sectors. Before looking at the main modalities, here is an update of the epidemic situation in France.

For several weeks, the authorities have noted a moderate decrease in epidemiological indicators, which nevertheless remain at high levels, with a persistence of hospital tension (limited decrease in new hospitalizations, stabilization of critical care admissions). Mortality related to COVID-19 remains consequently high. The most affected regions remain Île-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Hauts-de-France.


Finally, 14,601,130 people received at least one dose (21.8% of the population) and 6,115,998 people have been fully vaccinated (9.1%).


The French President has therefore developed a deconfinement plan in 4 major steps:

  • May 3rd: travel restrictions will be lifted, curfew will be maintained at 7 p.m. every day, and non-essential businesses remain closed.

  • May 19th: curfew at 9 pm, reopening of shops, bar and restaurant terraces (with a maximum of six people per table), reopening of cinemas, museums and theaters but with certain limits (800 people indoors, 1000 outdoors).

  • June 9th: curfew at 11 pm, reopening of cafés and restaurants (limited to six people per table), cultural and sports venues will be able to accommodate up to 5,000 people with a health pass, international tourism possible with a health pass, easing of telecommuting.

  • June 30th: the end of deconfinement while continuing to adopt barrier measures.

Following the Gauron report on intermittent workers, a dialogue has started between the Ministry of Labour, Culture and the social partners to continue to accompany the French and French-Resident artists towards the end of the crisis.

Despite this glimmer of hope, and because the protocols have not yet been clearly dictated by the Ministry of Culture, some directors remain cautious as to the possibility of a reopening theaters for mid-May, preferring to project themselves at the start of the summer festivals.



Singers and theaters Situation


a. Reopening of concert halls and festivals

In May 2021, the theaters will reopen, although, with a limited number of people as well as a gauge. In addition, the curfew will still be enforced (see previous chapter) and the sale of snacks and drinks will not yet be authorized in order to respect barrier gestures. Concerts and shows in places where the public must remain standing remain prohibited until further notice, since social distancing cannot be respected in this type of venue. If the evolution of vaccination and the number of cases follow the objectives set by the government, the plan to reopen theaters will be as follows:

May 19th: reopening of theaters and resumption of festivals with a gauge set at 35% of seat occupancy and a maximum of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors

June 9th: gauge increased to 65% of seat occupancy and a maximum of 5,000 people outdoors with a compulsory "health pass"

July 1st: more gauge, possibility of participating in events bringing together more than 1,000 people indoors and outdoors



b. Wearing a mask

Wearing a mask remains compulsory until further notice with "an exemption from wearing a mask and / or physical distancing when the nature of the artistic practice makes it impossible to respect this criteria." (culture.gouv.fr): it is therefore possible to be on stage without a mask but compulsory to wear it behind the scenes and in the dressing rooms.



c. Health pass

The health pass will allow you to travel and / or participate in an event from June 2021. It will bring together the results of the covid tests carried out as well as the vaccination certificates. The paper version is accepted.


d. Government reflections

Events and concert halls with more than 1,000 people will have additional regulations such as having a negative test on entry or a vaccination certificate. These rules will be discussed shortly by the government. In addition, the government is planning a “people standing up” test concert, as was the case in Spain. The pop group Indochine should therefore play in Paris on May 29th, 2021 and a second concert from another group in Marseille (date unknown) should take place, government meetings are being planned on this subject. The Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, also indicated that a reflection was underway concerning financial assistance allocated to cultural places for the resumption of their activities.



Economic situation and reaction from the culturals organizations.

The situation for opera singers and the cultural organizations in France remains catastrophic. The government has created various devices to help performing artists and technicians, but unfortunately that is not enough. Some artists started a demonstration on March 4, 2021 by occupying the Théâtre de l'Odéon in Paris. The mobilization continued in other places (major theaters?) in Paris and in France. The demonstrators are demanding that the financial aid granted up until 31 August 2021 be extended for another year as well as new financial and psychological aids and the reopening of cultural venues.

The artists will finally be able to return to the stage in May (see previous chapter) and the state has put financial aid in place. However, short-time unemployment compensation remains for many difficult to access, some employers refusing to grant it, the extension of a "blank year" until August 2021 for intermittents cultural workers does not make it possible to look ahead sufficiently in relation to the evolution of the pandemic and some of the so-called non-taxable aids were nonetheless taxed. All this leaves many artists in the dark and in deep financial distress . The UNISSON not for profit organization provides assistance to opera singers wishing to assert their rights. UNISSON is also working to raise the compensation rates of wage lost due to covid in order to have visibility on the subject, which is not the case for the moment.

Regarding festivals, the government has decided to support them by creating "a fund dedicated to supporting festivals" allowing them to compensate for losses linked to health constraints. This fund is endowed with € 30 million (culture.gouv.fr). Local authorities will also undertake festival financial support, with bo clear information concerning the amounts allocated.


Unisson Last works

Unisson maintains regular contact with various important key players of the French Opera industry, such as AFAA (the French not for profit organisation of artistic agents), Profedim (the union for opera companies and ensembles), the ROF (Réunion des Operas de France), and many others. Unisson also maintains close relations and frequent exchanges with the Ministry of Culture concerning pertinent reports and important information directly from the field.

Unisson has just completed a major project regarding the subject of artists' contracts. An in-depth analysis of the contract content, its diversity and the motivation meeting both the needs of the artist or the employer has been carried out. This investigation has been achieved with the lawyers working for Unisson.

As a result of this work, Unisson produced a pedagogical document for a "standard" fixed-term contract. Unisson's next major task, in partnership with the leaders of the Operatic Industry in France, will be to gradually have contracts, faithfully protecting French Labour Laws for artists and employers, to be adopted by all employers in France.

Unisson also continues to deal with demands for information or mediation on a case-by-case basis, if requested.



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