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Sweden to drop restrictions on live music

The Swedish government today (7 September) announced that it will drop almost all restrictions on live events by 29 September, when the penultimate stage of its roadmap commences.

From that date, capacity limits on indoor and outdoor shows will be removed, along with the requirement for attendees to be seated and socially distanced.

However, for a transitional period, vaccine passports may be required to attend events with more than 15,000 participants, according to culture minister Amanda Lind.

The news was announced during a press conference today, in which the minister of social affairs, Lena Hallengren, reported that 70% of adults in Sweden have received two doses of the vaccine while 80% have received the first injection.

“We are in a new and better situation”

“We are in a new and better situation,” Hallengren said.

The news will come as a relief to event organisers in the country, who had to deal with capacity limits as low as eight people for indoor standing shows.

Since 1 July, indoor standing concerts have been able to take place with a maximum of 50 people, seated indoor concerts with 300 people, standing outdoor concerts with 600, and seated outdoor concerts with 3,000. These restrictions apply until 29 September.

A date for the fifth and final stage – concerning congestion rules for shopping malls, cultural and leisure activities – is yet to be announced.

 


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Switzerland returns to full-capacity concerts

Switzerland has abolished capacity restrictions on public events in a further relaxation of the country’s coronavirus measures.

As of 26 June, events with more than 10,000 people can take place with attendees who can prove they are vaccinated against, have recovered from, or have tested negative for Covid-19.

Cantons will need to approve events with more than 1,000 people but smaller public gatherings can now go ahead without authorisation.

Venues may operate at full capacity, though they must provide a hygiene and safety plan that shows how entry will be restricted only to people with Covid certificates.

Events can take place which do not require Covid certificates, though capacity and seating restrictions will apply. If the concert is seated, a maximum of 1,000 people may attend. If the concert is standing, the maximum is 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Events can take place which do not require Covid certificates, though capacity and seating restrictions will apply

Masks must be worn where food and drink are served, though otherwise, masks are no longer required outdoors. Dancing at events and concerts is still banned.

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) has welcomed the rollback of restrictions but says it’s crucial that the “protective umbrella” is introduced as quickly as possible across Switzerland, and in a uniform way, in order for the live industry to take full advantage.

Each of the 26 cantons will be responsible for co-financing and implementing the scheme – which has long been a cause for concern for the event associations.

“The majority of the cantons are not yet ready and so the confidence of the industry representatives seriously diminishes,” says the SMPA. “Ultimately, it is important to them that framework conditions and protection concepts are defined uniformly, leanly and practically throughout Switzerland and that they are not strained cantonally or locally.”

The SMPA also argues that the live events industry shouldn’t have to absorb the costs of the restrictions that remain.

“We demand that costs for infrastructure, personnel and tests on-site are borne by the public purse”

“We demand that costs for infrastructure, personnel and tests on-site are borne by the public purse, not just the test material. In view of the increasing number of events, the cantons also need additional test capacities in the regions with major events,” it writes.

The association says that the relaxation of coronavirus measures has restored confidence in some promoters, though the news comes too late for many festival organisers.

OpenAir St.Gallen (1–4 July), Gurtenfestival (14–17 July), Caribana Festival (16–20 July), Thunerseespiele (14–28 August), Paléo Festival Nyon (19–25 July), Greenfield Festival (3–5 June), Rock the Ring (17–19 June) and Baloise Session (23 October to 10 November) called off their 2021 editions earlier this year.

The remaining festivals in Swizterland’s summer season include Summer Now (Biel), Montreux Jazz Festival, Winterthur Music Festival Weeks, Open Air Gampel, SummerDays Festival (Arbon), Seaside Festival (Spiez), Cheerful Events (Zofingen), Weihern Open Air (St. Gallen), Blausee Concerts, and Unique Moments (Zurich).

Switzerland is the latest market to announce the resumption of non-socially distanced shows, along with France, Belgium, the Netherlands, DenmarkAustria and the UK.

 


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Swiss industry increasingly frustrated at restrictions

The Swiss live music industry has expressed frustration at the government’s next rollback of restrictions, which will only see minor improvements to the current capacity limits.

The government announced today that restrictions will be relaxed from 31 May as part of the second ‘stabilisation’ phase of the country’s three-stage roadmap.

From 31 May, indoor public events will be limited to 100 people instead of 50, while outdoor events will be capped at 300 people instead of 100. Social distancing restrictions will apply to all public events.

In the wake of the news, the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) is demanding that the federal council relax restrictions for events and raise the capacity limit to 1,000 from the end of May.

“The requirements and restrictions for major events defined in the draft ordinance are generally perceived as very strict in relation to other regulated areas (shopping centres, markets, religious gatherings, etc.),” reads a statement from the SMPA.

The SMPA goes on to insist that events with a GGG certificate can be held from 1 July 2021 without additional requirements

The association goes on to say that no other industry is expected to restrict access to those who have recovered from the virus, have a recent negative test, or are fully vaccinated (known as the GGG concept), on top of adhering to distance rules, mask and seating requirements.

The SMPA goes on to insist that events with a GGG certificate be held from 1 July 2021 without additional requirements, regardless of how many people take part in the event.

“If events are restricted to GGG people, the risk of infection can be classified as negligible. The feasibility of events with a GGG certificate in a clearly defined transition phase and the correspondingly consistent admission control must not be associated with any further requirements. Additional requirements are irrelevant and represent a considerable tightening of the measures, which would offer the population and the industry no perspective,” says the alliance.

The government had previously said that from the end of May, the Swiss cantons should be able to approve large-scale events with up to 3,000 visitors (subject to restrictions), provided they are held after 1 July 2021 – in line with the country’s ‘protective umbrella’ insurance scheme.

The federal council also suggested that, from September 1, the upper capacity limit would be increased to 10,000 people. It is yet to be seen whether the government will allow these restriction rollbacks.

 


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Denmark’s festival season wiped out due to restrictions

Denmark’s festival season has been decimated for the second consecutive year after the government announced that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.

The announcement came last night (3 May) and was followed this morning by a raft of festival cancellations including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May).

Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) have also been called off.

The government’s reopening agreement states that 2,000-capacity events are permitted, provided attendees are divided into sections with a maximum of 200 people in each.

“It is a day of mourning”

After 1 August, the capacity limit will be raised to 5,000 with sections of up to 500 attendees. Events with 10,000 attendees will not take place until it is ‘assessed as sound from a health point of view’.

The agreement comes after the government’s expert advisory group warned that festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, which cast serious doubt over the viability of Denmark’s 2021 festival season.

The organisers of Roskilde, which typically gathers 130,000 people each year, say its enforced cancellation is not surprising.

“We are devastated by the fact that we can’t get together at our festival and contribute to recreating the communities that the corona crisis has destroyed for so many,” says a statement on the festival’s website.

“The cancellation is very serious for the festival, for the charity society behind it and for our community. And it is serious for the artistic environments and the growth segments of culture.”

“We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already”

Esben Marcher, head of Danish live music association Dansk Live, dubbed the government’s plan an “over-cautious reopening that does not leave much hope for the festivals”. “It’s a day of mourning,” he added.

Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, believes that government acted hastily: “We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already, as we believe that it is too early to make such decisive decisions on the basis of conjecture about what the situation will look like in three months’ time and what can and cannot be done at that time.”

The reopening agreement has effectively rendered Denmark’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net redundant for the organisers of festivals and major events.

Announced in March, the safety net was designed to cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants, taking place between 1 May and 30 September 2021, in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.

 


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Swiss gov reveals plan for restart of large events

The Swiss federal government has set out the conditions under which the cantons can approve major events from summer 2021.

Large events with over 1,000 people have been banned in Switzerland since the end of February 2020 but that looks set to change next month.

From the end of May, the Swiss cantons should be able to approve large-scale events with up to 3,000 visitors (subject to restrictions), provided they are held after 1 July 2021 – in line with the country’s ‘protective umbrella’ insurance scheme.

From September 1, the upper capacity limit will be increased to 10,000 people.

The government stresses that the data and capacity limits are subject to the country’s epidemiological situation and the cantons must revoke permits or issue additional restrictions if necessary – in which case, the protective umbrella will take effect.

From September 1, the upper capacity limit will be increased to 10,000 people

As IQ reported in March, organisers will only be covered by the protective umbrella if their event has ‘cross-cantonal importance’ and takes place between 1 June 2021 and 30 April 2022. If an event meets those provisions, the canton in which it takes place can offer the organiser a permit.

It has now been revealed that, should an event be cancelled or postponed due to government-enforced Coronavirus restrictions, the organiser will bear a deductible of CHF 30,000 (€27,000) from the uncovered costs and a deductible of 20% of the remaining amount.

If the cantons assume half of the uncovered costs, the federal government pays the other half. The cost-sharing by the federal government and the cantons amounts to a maximum of CHF 5 million (€4.5 m) per event.

The Swiss government has said that in order to minimise the risk of contamination, only people who have been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19, or have a negative test result will be allowed to attend large-scale events.

A uniform Swiss Covid certificate should also be available by summer, “which will make it much easier to check the evidence at the entrance,” according to the Federal council.

During the month of June, cantons should be able to approve the implementation of three pilot events between 300 and 600 cap

The council is proposing to trial the implementation of certain Covid restrictions during a ‘pilot phase’ in early summer with 300 to 600 people.

During the month of June, cantons should be able to approve the implementation of three pilot events with a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 600 people, according to the council.

Cantons and industry associations concerned will be able to express their opinion on the council’s proposals during a consultation on 10 May.

The proposals come too late for a number of Swiss festivals that have already called it quits on their 2021 summer events for the second consecutive year.

OpenAir St.Gallen, Gurtenfestival, Zermatt Unplugged, Caribana Festival and Thunerseespiele, Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival, Rock the Ring and Baloise Session are among the festivals which will not take place in 2021.

 


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French festivalgoers unwilling to attend seated festivals

The majority of French festivalgoers would not be willing to attend Eurockéennes de Belfort 2021 if they were required to be seated for the duration, according to a survey conducted by the festival.

The survey aimed to find whether festivalgoers would be willing to attend this summer’s edition with the restrictions recently announced by the government.

The restrictions, announced at the end of last month, require both indoor and outdoor festivals to limit attendance to 5,000 people, who must be seated and socially distanced.

The survey attracted 21,418 respondents, 72% of which said they would not be willing to attend a seated version of Eurockéennes this year.

One per cent of respondents did not answer the questions but 27% of respondents (around 6,000 people) said they would be willing to attend, which is more than the capacity limit.

Almost half of the respondents (48%) said they would not be willing to attend this year’s festival if social distancing was imposed and 73% would not attend if refreshments were not available.

Almost half of the respondents said they would not be willing to attend this year’s festival if social distancing was imposed

However, the majority of festivalgoers would agree to wear a mask (72%) and present results of a Covid-19 screening test for access to the festival (69%).

Eurockéennes, which was cancelled in 2020, is due to take place from 1 to 4 July this year, featuring acts including Massive Attack, the Lumineers, Foals, Simple Minds and Diplo. The 2019 edition was attended by 130,000 people.

Though the minister for culture, Roselyne Bachelot, announced a €30 million compensation fund for organisers alongside the restrictions, the French live industry has criticised the framework.

France’s trade union, the SMA (Syndicat des Musiques Actuelles), said “a seated event bringing together 5,000 maximum people, perhaps without access to the bar or the restaurant, cannot be called a festival”.

AEG Presents France GM and VP, Arnaud Meerseeman, said the “loose framework” and the issues it presents “points to another empty season”.

French metal festival Hellfest Open Air (cap. 60,000) was the first major French festival to cancel, saying that “to accept these overly restrictive rules would go against the very DNA of the festival”.

 


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Russian regions permit full capacity concerts

Russia is making a gradual return to live music, with the first handful of regions allowing events to take place at 100% capacity.

At the beginning of February, the governor of the Kemerovo region, in southwest Siberia, signed a decree permitting events to take place with 100% capacity.

While the governor of the Novosibirsk region, in Siberia, recently signed a decree to remove restrictions on the occupancy of venues. Both decrees have now come into force.

Russia’s live industry can now keep up to date with the capacity restrictions and mandatory format configurations in each region, thanks to a database published by a group of Russian organisations including the Association of Concert, Theatre and Ticket Organisations (KTiBO).

The Kemerovo region and the Novosibirsk region are the only areas operating at 100%

According to the database, which is updated as and when local authorities amend restrictions, the Kemerovo region and the Novosibirsk region are the only areas operating at 100%.

Regions including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg and Leningrad are currently allowing venues and theatres to host concerts with up to 75% capacity.

In some regions such as Transbaikal, the Republic of Crimea, and the Republic of Mordovia the capacity limit is as low as 30%.

The KTiBO, together with the leaders of the industry of cultural and entertainment events, has been appealing with governors to raise the ceiling in line with the average capacity limit of 50%.

 


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Pearle* launches 2021 map showing reopening of live

European live industry body Pearle* has published a new edition of its Map of Europe, which presents updates on the resumption of venues and live events across Europe.

Using a colour-coded system, the map illustrates differing circumstances from country to country, with some allowing performances for a smaller audience, others allowing rehearsals, and many remaining closed until further notice.

As it stands, Luxembourg will be the only country open for live music when venues open on 15 February.  Up to 100 masked attendees will be permitted at shows, provided that they are assigned a seat and observe the two-metre social distancing measure if they do not belong to the same household.

The live sectors in Iceland, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia and Sweden are either open under conditions or open with exceptions.

While, in countries such as France, Belgium and Greece, public concerts are banned but exceptions such as rehearsals and livestream events are permitted.

“Providing citizens with a perspective of when they will be able to see a live concert again is a vital sign of hope to society”

Fourteen countries are currently closed for business including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland.

No concrete, live performance-related information is available for Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Norway.

“Over the past year, the live performance sector has proven its capacity to manage the risks for rehearsals and performances,” reads a statement from Pearle*.

“It has also fully proven its expertise on how to manage audiences. In the meantime, various scientific studies provide evidence of the fact that it is absolutely possible to reopen venues and hold open-air events in safe conditions for workers and audience.

“It’s time for governments to give the sector an outlook. Live events matter to people. Providing citizens with a perspective of when they will be able to see a live concert or performance again is an important sign of hope to society.”

The resource, which was first published in May 2020, will be continuously updated as more information becomes available from Pearle* members. The map with the evolution during 2020 can be accessed here. See the 2021 edition below.

 


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NY stadiums, arenas permitted to reopen

New York governor Andrew Cuomo will allow major stadiums and arenas to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February.

The guidelines for reopening will be based on the testing pilot programme conducted by the NFL team Buffalo Bills at the weekend, in which 6,700 fans who presented negative tests, and agreed to contact tracing, attended the game socially distanced

In order for stadiums and arenas to reopen at 10%, all fans and staff planning to attend an event will need to provide a negative PCR test within the 72 hours prior. Fans must also be temperature checked upon entering a venue and will be required to wear face coverings while in attendance.

Indoor arenas must observe enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards, as well as socially distanced seating configurations. The permission applies to stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more.

The Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) in Brooklyn has already announced plans for their first event and will welcome fans back to the arena on 23 February for a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy reopened intelligently and in a balanced way,” said governor Cuomo.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently”

“Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus.

“Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

Cuomo has also announced that the state will host concerts for the first time in a year as part of the New York Arts Revival programme he announced in January.

More than 300 pop-up gigs will take place between 20 February and 6 September (Labor Day) at venues including the Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, La Mama, and Alice Busch Opera Theatre.

The governor says the gigs will visit flexible venues with no fixed seating so event formats can be reconfigured to allow adequate social distancing.

In January, Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US president Joe Biden, predicted that live performances could resume this autumn, depending on how widely the Covid-19 vaccine can be distributed by then.

Fauci suggested that if between 70% and 85% of the US population would have to be vaccinated, venues with good ventilation and proper air filters could open without social distancing – though some theatres may ask audience members to continue to wear masks.

 


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Japan reduces event capacities in greater Tokyo

The Japanese government has asked cinemas, museums and other event facilities in greater Tokyo to reduce capacities after declaring a state of emergency in the area.

Prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, last Thursday (7 January) announced that Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama – which together account for about 30% of the country’s population of 126 million – would be placed immediately under emergency measures for a month in a bid to curb surging Covid-19 cases.

Under the new restrictions, which will be in effect until at least 7 February, major events will be allowed to go ahead, with the cap for spectators revised down to 5,000 people or 50% of capacity, whichever is smaller.

“The situation has become increasingly troubling nationwide and we have a strong sense of crisis,” Suga said as he announced the new restrictions. “We fear that the nationwide, rapid spread of the coronavirus is having a big impact on people’s lives and the economy.”

“We fear that the nationwide, rapid spread of the coronavirus is having a big impact on people’s lives and the economy”

Unlike Japan’s first state of emergency in last spring, schools and non-essential businesses will not be asked to close.

Gyms, department stores and entertainment facilities will be asked to shorten their opening hours and an estimated 150,000 bars and restaurants in Tokyo and the three neighbouring prefectures will be asked to stop serving alcohol at 7 pm and to close an hour later. Residents are encouraged to avoid non-essential outings after 8 pm.

The state of emergency was declared as Tokyo reported a record 2,447 new infections on Thursday, up from 1,591 on Wednesday.

Despite the worrying surge, Japanese and International Olympic Committee officials have insisted that the global pandemic will not derail plans to open the already postponed Tokyo Olympics on 23 July, and last week Suga insisted he was still committed to holding the Olympics as “proof of mankind’s victory over the virus”.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to run from 23 July to 8 August, with the Paralympics due to follow from 24 August to 5 September.

 


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