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Belgium rolls back restrictions on live events

Belgium has transitioned to ‘code yellow’ on its coronavirus barometer, meaning the majority of restrictions have now been lifted.

As of today (7 March), the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will no longer be required to gain entrance to events, bars and gyms, given the “favourable evolution of the epidemic conditions”.

The maximum capacity for activities, concert halls and theatres has also been lifted, meaning that concerts and other shows can take place in full venues again.

The mandate to wear face masks in public spaces has also been ditched. “However, in places where no safe distance can be maintained, it is still recommended,” prime minister Alexander De Croo said during a press conference Friday (4 March).

The testing and quarantine rules have not changed, but Belgium’s health ministers are expected to discuss this topic on Wednesday (9 March).

The testing and quarantine rules have not changed, but Belgium’s health ministers are expected to discuss this topic

Prior to today, Belgium was operating at ‘code orange’ on the barometer, in which the CST was mandatory for all indoor activities with more than 50 participants and for all outdoor activities with more than 100 participants. Face masks were mandatory for indoor concerts.

The CST, initially introduced in July 2021, certifies that a person has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has tested negative for Covid-19 or has recovered from Covid-19.

Elsewhere in Europe, England, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have all announced plans to lift all remaining limits.

In Germany, most Covid curbs will be axed from Freedom Day – 20 March – although “low-threshold basic protective measures,” such as mask-wearing, will still apply.

Italy’s live music sector was still waiting for the green light to restart.

 


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Dutch live sector to reopen by end of February

The Dutch government has announced a three-step plan for reopening which will see nearly all restrictions dropped by the end of February.

On 18 February, when step 2 is initiated, the current curfew of 10 pm for venues and events will be pushed back to 1 am.

It will continue to be mandatory to show the coronavirus entry pass verifying proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative Covid test (3G) to enter music venues and other cultural places.

At venues accomodating less than 500 people, assigned seating, social distancing and the requirement to wear a face mask will no longer apply. At venues with more than 500 people, these rules will be in force.

In addition, the recommended period of self-isolation after a positive test result will be shortened to five days.

On 25 February, large nightclubs, festivals and events can open up without limitations

On 25 February, when the third and final step is initiated, opening times will return to normal and large nightclubs, festivals and events can open up without limitations.

Nearly all restrictions regarding 3G, social distancing, assigned seating, masks and capacity limits will be scrapped.

However, at indoor locations accommodating more than 500 people where there is no assigned seating (eg nightclubs and festivals) all attendees must show a negative test result (1G). This does not apply at events where there is a continuous flow of visitors, such as trade fairs and conferences.

On 15 March the government will evaluate the remaining rules including the face mask requirement for public transport, the pre-admission testing requirement (1G) and the advice on working from home.

Since 26 January, booked events have been permitted to resume with a maximum of 1,250 visitors indoors and a maximum of one-third of the capacity in outdoor spaces, using the 3G model.

Venues and events have been subject to a 22:00 curfew. Nightclubs have remained closed and festivals and unplaced events have been prohibited.

The Dutch government’s plan to roll back restrictions follows a number of protests organised by the live sector, including De Nacht Staat Op (The Night Rises) and Unmute Us.

 


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Weekly round-up: Omicron live music restrictions

Welcome to IQ’s weekly round-up of the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets.

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.

Australia
Australia has announced that it will reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders, from 21 February, for the first time in almost two years.

Australia has had some of the world’s strictest border controls throughout the pandemic – in March 2020, the government closed the borders and barred most foreigners from entering the country.

Belgium
Belgian ministers say the country is close to moving from red to orange on the barometer introduced a few weeks ago “but people still need to exercise caution”.

In orange, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required for both indoor and outdoor events (with the option of requiring an extra rapid antigen test at the entrance for nightclubs).

There would be no enforced closing time for businesses, but the Consultative Committee can decide to limit the number of people allowed to 60-90% of a venue’s maximum capacity, depending on whether the air quality requirements can be guaranteed.

Additionally, crowd management is mandatory for events, and organisers have the option to compartmentalise the public. Air quality requirements will be made stricter than in code yellow.

The Finnish government has recommended that capacity restrictions be lifted as of 14 February

Canada
The Ontario government has limited concert venues to 50% capacity until at least 14 March – despite other entertainment spaces such as cinemas, casinos and restaurants expecting to be given the go-ahead to host full houses from 21 February.

Artists including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd and The Offspring have been forced to postpone tour dates due to provincial restrictions.

Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) boss Erin Benjamin told The Canadian Press the policy was “really hard to understand”, and would likely deter other top international acts from visiting the country this year.

The CLMA is appealing for the government to extend relief for live music businesses via the Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).

Finland
The Finnish government has announced plans to roll back its Covid-19 restrictions from this month.

The government has recommended that capacity restrictions within the cultural, sports and event sectors be lifted as of 14 February.

From that day, any businesses that primarily serve alcohol will be allowed to serve until 22:00, and remain open until 23:00.

All restrictions on food and beverage service businesses could be lifted completely as of 1 March.

Following the recommendations of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Ministry of Justice, Finland will no longer use Covid passes, at least for the time being. Event organisers and certain establishments were allowed to ignore Covid restrictions if they demanded customers present their Covid passes.

Germany will allow up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events

Germany
Germany will allow up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events, the 16 federal states agreed last Wednesday (2 February).

The decision, which also allows up to 4,000 participants in indoor spaces, aims to harmonise currently varying rules for stadium attendance at a state-by-state level. The new rules take effect as soon as the federal states update their regulation.

Masks must be worn, and proof of vaccination or recovery, as well as a booster shot or negative test status, depending on the state, will also be required.

Events that do not qualify as national major events with over 2,000 spectators still fall under state-specific rules.

Italy
Italy is about to enter a “new phase” of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to government ministers.

“In the coming weeks we will continue on this path of reopening,” says Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “Based on the scientific evidence, and continuing to follow the trend of the epidemiological curve, we will announce a calendar for overcoming the current restrictions”.

The next update on the country’s Covid restrictions is due by 10 February, when the outdoor mask mandate and the closure of nightclubs and dance venues are up for review again after both rules were recently extended.

The Italian green pass system itself is not expected to be scaled back anytime soon, with some experts including Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to the health minister, maintaining that it must stay in place over summer “at least”.

These rules can only remain in force however under the nationwide state of emergency, which creates the conditions for the government to pass new laws urgently by decree.

Italy’s state of emergency is currently set to expire on 31 March 2022. It is not yet known whether the government plans to extend it.

Sweden has become the latest European nation to announce it is lifting coronavirus restriction

Sweden
Sweden has become the latest European nation to announce it is lifting coronavirus restrictions.

On 9 February, capacity limits and vaccine certificates for live events will be discontinued, while the government also intends to lift entry restrictions for the Nordic countries.

Live events in the country have been subject to a capacity limit of 500 people (or 500 per section if the organiser divides the room so that people from different sections do not come into contact with each other).

The Swedish public health agency will also follow Denmark’s lead in submitting a request that Covid-19 should no longer be classified as a socially dangerous disease.

“It’s time to open up Sweden,” said prime minister Magdalena Andersson. “The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase.”

 


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Italy’s live sector slams “useless” capacity increase

Italian promoters’ association Assomusica has slammed the country’s latest rollback of restrictions as being “inadequate and useless”.

Capacity restrictions for live events were increased last week, as experts said the use of vaccine passports is slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Football stadiums are now allowed to reach 75% capacity, up from 50 per cent at the start of the season, indoor sporting arenas rise to 50% from 35%, and indoor music venues increase to 80% from 50%.

“An increase to 80% of the capacity for indoor shows is totally inadequate and useless – both for most of the concerts already postponed several times (many of which sold out and are impossible to reschedule without having to arbitrarily choose who has the right to see the show and who does not) and for future ones who need 100% capacity and no distancing,” writes the association.

“it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours”

“Apart from these percentages used in the media, it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours and those scheduled in the summer of 2022.”

“It is, therefore, essential to set a target percentage of the vaccinated population and consequently a certain date for the restart that is no longer postponable that today can count on the Green Pass deemed suitable in any other form of ‘gathering’ but obviously not for concerts that need a lot of advance warning to be properly organised.”

The denouncement follows a “desperate appeal” to the Italian government in late September, which was backed by trade associations and more than 300 domestic and foreign artists.

The open letter demands that capacity limits and the requirement for social distancing are abolished immediately – though it is proposed that masks and temperature checks upon entry to an event are mandatory.

The association and the signatories have called for a shared plan to be formalised by the government before 31 October.

 


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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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