France is reportedly preparing to ban standing concerts until March 31 due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

According to Les Jours, the government is preparing to outlaw all “horizontal concerts,” as opposed to seated shows, where concertgoers’ seats are staggered vertically, until after the winter, when it is hoped a vaccine will be available.

France reported another record for new cases over the weekend, with more than 32,000 registered in 24 hours.

The move would be a troubling blow to the festival industry that would likely be in the middle of preparations for their 2021 events by the time the proposed ban expires on April 1.

According to France Festivals, more than 2,500 open-air events were cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

The French government announced in September that indoor concerts without social distancing could go ahead providing there are fewer than 5,000 people in attendance, however, larger events remain banned until November.

In addition, the country began enforcing controversial overnight curfews across several cities this weekend in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. The curfew, which will be in place for a month, runs from 21:00 to 06:00 every night in cities including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse, as well as the capital, Paris.

In September, the French government announced a €2bn cultural recovery plan, with €220m dedicated to the live events sector.

The World Health Organisation reported a “very concerning” 44 per cent rise in European cases over one week.

Italy’s most populous region is limiting bar openings and suspending sports events, in addition to introducing its own rule of six.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also announced on Sunday that parties, festivals and other such public events – including conferences and conventions – are suspended.

Meanwhile, amid a surge in confirmed cases and deaths in Slovakia, Prime Minister Igor Matovic declared a state of emergency earlier this month, and introduced new restrictions this week, including a ban on mass events, the closure of fitness centres and pools, and a switch to remote learning for schools.

Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among the other European nations to introduce stricter COVID-19 measures this week.

Image: Martin Fisch / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size