Art Market

France’s culture minister tested positive for the coronavirus.

Daria Simone Harper
Mar 10, 2020 3:46PM, via The Art Newspaper

Franck Riester, the Culture Minister of France. Photo by ActuaLitté, via Wikimedia Commons.

Official sources revealed on Monday night that French Culture Minister, Franck Riester, tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Riester spent time at parliament last week, where five MPs had tested positive for the virus; according to health minister Olivier Véran, Riester is “feeling well” and “resting safe at home.” Though he hasn't met directly with French president Emmanuel Macron, Riester attended a cabinet meeting with him last Wednesday.

The culture minister was set to meet today with spokespeople of the performing arts industry to gauge the effectiveness of efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in France. On Sunday, French authorities announced a ban on any public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, impacting over 300 performance venues, including the national opera, the new Philharmonie de Paris, and the popular concert venue Le Zénith.

The Louvre is implementing new measures to reduce attendance to the massive museum. Following a two-day closing last week, the institution is now only admitting tourists with pre-booked tickets and people who qualify for free tickets. It reopened after coming to an agreement to introduce measures like the refusal to handle cash and signage that asks guests to keep a respectful distance from employees.

Regularly welcoming anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 visitors daily to see the Mona Lisa (1503–19) alone, the museum saw only a few dozen visitors on Monday, according to The Art Newspaper. A museum representative noted a dramatic drop in visitors from China, Italy, the US and France. On Sunday, Italy closed all of its museums and cultural institutions as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country skyrocketed.

Daria Simone Harper