March 20 (UPI) -- The Cannes International Film scheduled for mid-May has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in France, the iconic film competition announced.
The festival said Thursday it won't be able to hold the event as scheduled from May 12-23 and is considering several options "to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement" until the end of June or the beginning of July.
The move came after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday the closure of all non-essential public locations. The day prior, he banned all gatherings of more than 100 people, a drastic increase to the ban on indoor events of more than 5,000 people declared at the end of February.
Though the pandemic appears to be slowing in China where it emerged in December before spreading the world over, its epicenter has shifted to Europe, specifically France's neighbor of Italy, which has recorded as of Thursday evening more than 41,000 infections and 3,405 deaths to COVID-19, more than any other nation. In France, home to the resort town of Cannes where the festival is held, health officials have reported 10,995 coronavirus infections since Jan. 24 and 372 deaths.