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Czech state of emergency outlaws live music

Most concerts, musical theatre and opera are off limits as of Monday, as the Czech Republic tries to get a handle on its coronavirus R rate

By IQ on 01 Oct 2020

Czech ministers announce the state of emergency

Czech ministers announce the state of emergency

image © Government of the Czech Republic

All live music with singing will be banned in the Czech Republic from Monday 5 October under a new state of emergency intended to combat rising coronavirus cases.

The reproduction number, the so-called ‘R rate’, in the Czech Republic is currently 1.2, meaning every person who has Covid-19 will infect an average of 1.2 other people – ie that the disease is spreading. Czech health minister Roman Prymula said earlier this week he hopes the new restrictions will bring the R rate below 1 and help the country avoid a second wave of the virus.

The new restrictions announced by the Czech government include:

  • A ban on concerts, musicals and opera
  • No crowds at sporting events
  • A ten-person limit on indoor gatherings
  • A 20-person limit on outdoor gatherings

While the state of emergency will last a month, the restriction on sung concerts is initially for two weeks, until 11.59pm on 18 October. Other activities involving a “significant amount of singing”, such as rehearsals, are also off.

Performances not involving singing – such as (non-musical) theatre shows, films and, theoretically, instrumental concerts – are subject to a maximum capacity of 500 people, all seated, and with no refreshments/intermission.

Other activities involving a “significant amount of singing”, such as rehearsals, are also off

Among the concerts affected are a series of October shows by popular singer Helena Vondráčková, whose manager, Martin Michal, says he doesn’t understand the focus by authorities on singing.

“According to the minister of health, we have such a powerful singer that [her breath] will jump more than 20 metres from the stage to the front rows,” says Michal, who adds that the new rules contradict previous guidance by the Czech government.

A recent study in the UK suggested singing is no riskier than talking when it comes to spreading coronavirus aerosols, although the research is not peer-reviewed and its results have not yet been replicated elsewhere.

The new lockdown brings to an abrupt end a summer of socially distanced music in the Czech Republic, with the recent collaborative effort, Praha září, serving as a last hurrah for the country’s festival organisers.

At press time, the Czech Republic had 70,834 active coronavirus cases.


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