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2,000 attend concert at Accor Arena in Paris

Accor Arena in Paris hosted its first Covid-safe show on Friday, days before a nationwide music festival prompted concerns over a perceived lack of social distancing

By IQ on 22 Jun 2020

2,000 attend concert at Accor Arena in Paris

Many gathered in Paris to mark the Fête de la Musique celebrations

Christine and the Queens was among acts to perform to a 2,000-strong, socially distanced crowd at the Accor Arena on Friday (19 June) to kick of the Fête de la Musique celebrations, which later saw some flout Covid-19 restrictions on the streets of Paris and other cities.

The free-to-attend concert, Tous ensembles pour la musique (All together for music), was the first to take place in the 20,000-capacity arena in Paris, which was formerly known as the Accorhotels Arena, after almost four months of silence.

The arena operated at a tenth of its usual capacity to maintain social distancing rules and all fans had to wear masks during the event, which saw performances from over 40 Francophone artists including LEJ, Benabar, Salvatore Adamo and Vianney and was broadcast live on France 2.

A few days later, music fans from all over France gathered in the streets to mark the official date of the annual Fête de la musique – known as Music Day in English – which sees concerts held in bars, cafes, squares and parks throughout the country on 21 June.

The French Ministry of Culture, which created the annual festival in 1982, had announced that this year’s celebration could go ahead provided that concerts only took place in pre-authorised locations; a distance of one metre be kept between individuals; and public gatherings did not exceed ten people.

Bar, cafe and restaurant owners wishing to host concerts were advised that doing so was their own responsibility and advised not to if “likely to lead to uncontrolled gatherings on the street”.

“We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful”

“I call on all those who are about to travel to be careful and responsible,” said culture minister Franck Riester before the event. “We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful.”

Despite the restrictions, images of the celebrations online have sparked criticism, showing large crowds gathering in many parts of France, most notably in Paris, without wearing masks or abiding by distancing measures.

In the city of Nantes, thousands also joined together to pay homage to Steve Maia Caniço, who disappeared following police intervention during last year’s festival.

Celebrations elsewhere in the country, as well as some in Paris, got underway in compliance with coronavirus restrictions. In the city of Rennes, home to Rencontres Trans Musicales, open-air concerts in undisclosed locations took place to avoid large gatherings, while a barge fitted with loudspeakers entertained locals in Strasbourg and musical floats appeared in the streets of Sète.

At the Institute of the Arab World in Paris, successive waves of 500 spectators took part in a series of karaoke sessions, seated around tables of ten, space out at intervals of three metres.

A number of virtual events also took place as part of this year’s festival, with DJ Jean-Michel Jarre performing as an avatar as part of a special, virtual-reality concert.

A ban on events over 5,000 people remains in place in France until September, although concerts with fewer than 5,000 attendees will be permitted from 11 July, with Live Nation France’s Big Tour kicking off later that month.


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