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France to lift all restrictions on outdoor shows

With proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from all fans, French festivals will be able to operate at 100% capacity from 30 June

By Jon Chapple on 24 Jun 2021

Crowds at Les Vieilles Charrues 2019 in Brittany, France

Crowds at Les Vieilles Charrues 2019

image © Estelle Abraham/Vieilles Charrues

There will be no capacity restrictions on open-air concerts and festivals in France from 30 June, in news that will be welcomed by the live music industry but which comes too late for many summer festivals.

Following sustained lobbying by industry associations and the success of the Ambition Live Again pilot concert, as of next Wednesday concert organisers will be able to do away with social distancing, and the current attendance cap of 5,000 people, for outdoor events. Indoor shows, meanwhile, remain limited to 75% of capacity.

All events of more than 1,000 people must ask for attendees’ pass sanitaire, the French health passport, certifying that they have had both vaccines or a negative Covid-19 test in the last 48 hours. Masks are advised but not compulsory.

Previously outdoor festivals in France were limited to 5,000 people, seated, with social distancing equivalent to a space of 4m² for each festivalgoer. “It was unrealistic; people can not sit in their own little square,” says Aurélie Hannedouche, head of the Union of Contemporary Music (SMA).

Hannedouche tells Le Dauphiné libéré she welcomes the news but notes that it comes too late for events like Hellfest and Rock en Seine. “The resumption of standing concerts is good news, but it will be hard to readjust for festivals planned around mid-July,” she adds.

“We haven’t had any standing shows for fifteen months. Now we will be able to restart”

Malika Seguineau, head of live music industry association Prodiss, also welcomes the resumption of standing concerts, but criticises the need for the pass sanitaire for bigger shows. “People do not understand it,” she says.

“I’ve had festivalgoers tell me that they cannot attend come because they did not have their two doses of the vaccine, but this is not a vaccination passport – all it takes is a recent test,” adds Jérôme Tréhorel, director of Les Vieilles Charrues, which is taking place in a smaller, socially distanced format, compliant with the previous regulations, from 8 to 18 July.

Additionally, the préfets which represent the French government in each region can also overrule the national guidelines in the event of a severe local health situation.

Regardless of of these reservations, the return of full-capacity live music to France after nearly year and a half is a cause for celebration, Seguineau tells Le Monde. “We haven’t had any standing shows for fifteen months. Now we will be able to restart, within these conditions.”

With this week’s announcement, France joins other European countries incluyding Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and the UK in having set a date this summer for the resumption of non-socially distanced shows.


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