Coronavirus Outbreak: Minions stuffed toys greet French movie-goers to ensure social distancing in theatres
The reopening of cinemas across France on Monday was part of a phased relaxation of the lockdown measures owing to the coronavirus
French movie fans ventured back into cinemas on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown, helped by a new safety feature: Minions placed at intervals in the seats to ensure social distancing is observed.
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Stuffed toy versions of the yellow, pill-shaped characters were deployed at the MK2 cinema in the south of Paris for a showing of the 2015 movie Minions - a spin-off from the Despicable Me franchise that made them famous.
The Minions, dressed in their trademark goggles and dungarees, were placed strategically around the auditorium to enforce a rule that viewers leave at least one place free between them and their neighbours.
The reopening of cinemas across France on Monday was part of a phased relaxation of the lockdown measures that were imposed in March to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Nathanael Karmitz, chairman of the MK2 cinema chain, said the numbers showing up for matinee screenings on Monday showed how much the French public had missed going to the movies.
“They love cinema,” he said. “It’s much less risky spending two hours in a cinema than travelling on public transport or taking a train.”
Monday’s cinema outing was not the first time the Minions have been enlisted to help keep people safe from COVID-19.
They featured in a public service announcement, developed in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO), encouraging people to wash their hands and keep their distance to stay safe.
Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house also reopened Monday and performed its first concert since the lockdown — to an audience that didn’t have to worry about social distancing.
Instead of people, the UceLi Quartet played Giacomo Puccini’s I Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums) for 2,292 plants, one for each seat in the theatre. The concert was also live-streamed for humans to watch.
The event was conceived by Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia who said he was inspired by nature during the pandemic.
“I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my garden and outside growing faster. And, without a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much intimate way with people and nature,” he said before the performance.
At the end of the eight-minute concert, the sound of leaves and branches blowing in the wind resonated throughout the opera house like applause.
The theatre says it will gift the plants to local health workers as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic. Spain’s national state of emergency was lifted on Sunday after three months of restrictions on movement and assembly.
(With inputs from agencies)
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