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Germany’s live biz says Freedom Day ‘not in sight’

With some federal states leaving measures in place, the Event Management Forum warns a return to normality is not yet possible

By James Hanley on 18 Mar 2022

Rock am See, Constance, Germany, Koko & DTK Entertainment, CTS Eventim, Chris Danneffel

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) has warned of the challenges still facing the live music sector despite parliament voting to scrap most Covid restrictions.

Last month, the country confirmed a gradual approach to reopening, amid falling infection numbers. Limits on major outdoor events were raised from 10,000 to 25,000 (or 75% capacity) on 4 March, and clubs were allowed to reopen, with full capacity shows permitted from this Sunday’s much-trumpeted “Freedom Day”.

Though cases have since surged to record levels, with 297,845 new coronavirus cases and 226 deaths reported over the last 24 hours according to the Robert Koch Institute, lawmakers backed an amendment to the Infection Protection Act, which removes the need to wear face masks in most public settings.

“We can’t continue to put the entire country under a shield in order to protect a small group of people who are unwilling to get vaccinated,” said health minister Karl Lauterbach. “The balance is being shifted.”

However, the EMF, which includes live music bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, has raised concerns that, due to high case numbers, several federal states have announced they plan to maintain Covid restrictions even after the transition period ends on 2 April, and have the power to impose “hot-spot regulations” to deal with future outbreaks.

“The patchwork of measures is thus growing,” it says. “In addition, the regulations are limited until 23 September 2022 and dealing with a further wave in autumn is completely open.”

“The uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn”

Marcus Pohl, chair of the ISDV, the trade body for the event industry’s independent service providers, says the plans lack long-term perspective.

“If no further changes are made to the version of the present draft law to amend the Infection Protection Act, a return to normality is not in sight,” he says.

“Even if events will be possible in many places in the coming months and, for example, the clubs can govern at short notice, the uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn,” says LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich, who is calling on the government to name a specific point of contact to restart a dialogue with the sector.

The organisation is also proposing the implementation of a nationwide, tiered process to protect against infection going forward.

“In the first step, an FFP2 mask requirement may be sufficient,” it says. “In a second stage, it must be possible that only 2G or 2G plus visitors, for example, are allowed access to the event. In the next step, a restriction to 3G and a seat plus mask in the aisles can represent the next higher measure without capping capacity.

“Only when the infection has exceeded a hospitalisation rate to be defined should a distance requirement be imposed. In this case, however, an economic aid must be granted for all types of events. In addition, there needs to be a clear, nationwide regulation on the required vaccination status for participants and guests of events arriving from abroad.”

“Events with capacity restrictions have not been economical in the past two years and will not be able to be so in the future either,” reiterates BDKV president Prof Jens Michow reiterated . “You cannot generate 100% costs with an income possibility of 75%.”

 


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