Germany Closes Cinemas, More As It Broadens Shutdown; France, Canada Boost Restrictions

UPDATED with France and Canada actions: Germany is ramping up its response to the global coronavirus pandemic, with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announcing border shutdowns and the closures of most businesses including schools, bars, movie theaters and sports venues. In a nationally televised news conference Monday night, Merkel also said all playgrounds, bars, clubs, cultural venues and zoos in the country will be closed.

Meanwhile, in France, President Emmanuel Macron said in his own nationally televised address tonight that the country is “at war” with coronavirus, ordering a 15-day lockdown nationwide beginning Tuesday in which people can only leave their homes for essential needs. In Canada, where some cinemas are shuttered, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the borders will be closed except to Canadian and U.S. citizens.

In Germany, Merkel, announcing the cinema closures for the first time, said that supermarkets, liquor stores, banks, post offices and pet stores will be among the few businesses allowed to stay open. Restaurants can only be open from 6 AM-6 PM and must observe proper distances between tables.

Large gatherings have also been banned, and Merkel said all foreign and domestic vacation travel should be postponed.

Germany, which as of Monday morning per the World Health Organization has 3,795 confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths, also closed its borders to non-essential traffic with five countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The WHO reports that France has 5,380 cases and 127 deaths, the third most in Europe after Italy and Spain. Canada has 304 cases and one death.

The European exhibition sector has been walloped by the growing pandemic. On Monday, UK-based Cineworld, the world’s second-largest exhibitor, hit its lowest ever share price as global markets continue to drop in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Entertainment shares overall are being hit hard. Germany-based ProSiebenSat.1 Media stock was down north of 11% today.

The international box office was down 85% this weekend compared witht the same period last year, while the U.S. box office hit a 22-year low.

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