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Guidelines published for safe reopening in Europe

The European Commission’s recommendations include Covid-status certification (negative test or proof of vaccination) and the immunisation of all venue staff

By Jon Chapple on 30 Jun 2021

The EU's minister for promoting the European way of live, Margaritis Schinas

image © 2016 European Union/Etienne Ansotte

The European Commission has published new guidelines to enable the safe restart of cultural and creative activities across the EU.

The guidelines, presented yesterday (29 June) by the EC’s vice-president for ‘promoting our European way of life’, Margaritis Schinas, and the commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel, aim to “provide a coordinated approach in line with the specific national, regional and local conditions” in individual member states as the epidemiological situation increases across the European Union, says the EC.

“Culture helped people cope with the impacts of lockdowns and social distancing. It is now our turn to accompany the sectors in their path to reopening,” says Schinas (pictured). “We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities and be more prepared for future crises.

“The cultural and creative sectors are strong European assets and are important for Europe’s sustainable recovery, increased resilience of European society and, more generally, our European way of life.”

“We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities”

The EU guidelines, developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in partnership with the EU Health Security Committee, recommend the following:

  • The lifting of all restrictions should be strategic and gradual, with a restricted number of participants at the beginning to assess the epidemiological situation
  • Cultural establishments should have a preparedness plan detailing protocols of actions when Covid-19 cases are detected
  • Targeted information and/or ad-hoc training should be made available for all staff in cultural establishments to minimise risks of infection
  • Vaccination of persons working in cultural settings should be promoted to ensure their and the public’s protection
  • Participants can be asked proof of negative Covid-19 test and/or vaccination and/or Covid-19 diagnosis in order to be admitted to the venue. Depending on the local circulation of variants, this requirement can be extended to fully vaccinated individuals
  • Establishments should ensure that the contact details of the audiences are available in case they are needed for contact tracing
  • The establishment should put in place targeted protective measures: maintaining social distancing whenever possible, clean and accessible hand-washing facilities, appropriate ventilation and frequent cleaning of surfaces. The use of face masks by attendees is an important complementary measure
  • A range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery of the entire sector should accompany the reopening of cultural venues. Actions at EU level complement those taken by Member States and by the sectors

EU member states, says the commission, are now invited to “take full advantage” of the bloc’s Recovery and Resilience Facility to invest in their national cultural sectors as the pandemic nears its end. Through Creative Europe (€2.5bn) and Horizon Europe (€2bn) nearly €4.5 billion is being made available for “cultural, creative and inclusive projects” from 2021 to 2027.

“The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level”

“The cultural and creative industries and sectors have paid a heavy toll since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, the crisis highlighted their importance for our society and economy,” comments Gabriel. “With the increased vaccine uptake, gradual lifting of restrictions, including in the field of culture, is taking place. The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level.

“Simultaneously, a safe reopening of cultural settings should go hand in hand with a range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery and resilience of the entire sector.”

Welcoming the guidelines, Pearle* (Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe) says attention to also be paid to the various successful test events in EU countries, which have proven that reopening at full capacity is possible with measures such as mass testing.

The Brussels-based federation also approves of the commissioners’ “presentation of funding lines”, underlining “that appropriate support packages are needed to revive the sector and recover from more than a year and a half of lost income,” says a Pearle* spokesperson. “The signal of the [European Commission] to put in place dedicated European funds need to be complemented with member state support, also at regional and local level,” they emphasise.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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