Bookshops have been added to the list of French businesses considered essential and will be able to remain open in the event of a lockdown, according to a February 26 government decree. The Connexion reported that "for the next two weekends, lockdowns will be in place in the coastal communes in the Alpes-Maritimes, including Nice and Cannes, and in Dunkirk and its surrounding area. Bookshops there will be permitted to remain open under the new ruling."
During the country's second national lockdown in November and December, bookshops were closed to the public and could operate only through click and collect services, a decision that "was heavily criticized by the literary community in France and a petition was launched demanding they be reopened," the Connexion noted.
Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot welcomed the recent decision, telling AFP: "Bookstores are essential businesses. There has never been any doubt about that."
In a potential sign of a pandemic new-normal in England, organizers of the 2021 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate confirmed they will host on-site events this year in response to the British government's new "roadmap out of lockdown." Scheduled for July 22-25, the festival, which was moved online last year, will feature a range of live author talks, panels and guests, as well as some hybrid events.
''While the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be extremely dynamic, with rules and regulations changing constantly, the government roadmap suggested a return to normal by this summer," said Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals. "We are adapting and evolving our plans to be able to deliver a safe and agile Festival in line with the government regulations at the time, with additional safety measures where necessary, while also ensuring the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival retains the iconic feel that has ensured its place as the most successful crime writing festival in the world. We remain optimistic about the year ahead and like people across the U.K., we are very much looking forward to the return of live events."
In India, the pandemic "has affected the lives of booksellers--and, indeed, of all hawkers--on trains and railway platforms in ways they could not have imagined a year ago," Scroll.in reported in a feature on "how the pandemic shut down business for this bookseller on local trains in Bengal."
Beginning more than two decades ago, Dipankar Kundu had "sourced what he called a few 'serious books' on credit from a kind publisher, and started hawking them on suburban trains.... There was no looking back after that," Scroll.in noted. But when India went into lockdown last year, life "became a stark contrast between what it used to be and what it was now." While the train hawkers are now back at their regular trade, it is a changed world because, among other factors, the number of commuters taking local trains has diminished substantially.
Against a backdrop of "economic havoc," Kundu is still trying to sell his books because "it has become as much of a passion as it is a profession," Scroll.in wrote. "So, apart from hawking books, Kundu now works as a courier for a number of bookshops around Shyamnagar and Naihati.... Still, selling books remains his first priority." --Robert Gray