Cannes opens doors to homeless as virus spreads

The French town of Cannes said Friday that it would open the pavilion of its prestigious annual film festival -- postponed due to coronavirus -- to homeless people as the pandemic spreads in France.

The Cannes film festival, the world's biggest, is no long being held from May 12-23 because of the spread of COVID-19.

On Friday, France reported 78 more deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the outbreak in the country to 450.

Some 12,612 people have now been confirmed to have been infected, but authorities warn the real figure could be a lot higher.

In face of these developments, Cannes municipal authorities said the venue, which usually houses congresses and art events, has been handed over to accommodate up to 50 people living on the street in what they saw as "a symbol of solidarity."

"Currently, the priority is confinement and the confinement of the most vulnerable," said Dominique Aude-Lasset, deputy director general of Cannes urban services.

Beds, meals and showers will be made available in line with regulations regarding social distancing during the virus-related confinement across France.

Television will also be provided, while temperature and baggage checks will be carried out at the entrance, Aude-Lasset said.

Cannes Festival organisers said Thursday the event would not be able to go ahead in May, but could be postponed to mid-June or early July.

Along the Mediterranean coast in Nice, city authorities similarly plan to open up accommodation for the homeless from Monday.