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NZ: Rollback of restrictions “too late” for festivals

Festival organisers and promoters in New Zealand say that the government’s rollback of restrictions is “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden earlier today (23 March) announced the removal of vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits.

In addition, the limit for indoor gatherings will be doubled, from 100 to 200 people.

The mandate removal and end of the vaccine pass will go into effect from 5 April, while the other changes go into effect from midnight on Friday (25 March).

Splore festival’s John Minty told Stuff he is “bemused” by the timing of the government’s announcement, saying it had come “out of the blue” after months of uncertainty around when festivals could resume.

“It’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way”

“It hadn’t been indicated that if certain things happen, we would have less restrictions,” Minty continues. “So it’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way.”

The festival was originally scheduled to happen between 25–27 February at Tāpapakanga Regional Park but was canned after the government announced a move to the ‘red’ traffic light setting.

Minty said Splore organisers would now assess whether they could pull together the festival for late April.

The government’s announcement comes too late for Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines, after the traditional New Year’s event was postponed until Easter, and then cancelled for the first time in its 19-year-history.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season,” says Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season”

The Gisborne festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the end of the year instead.

Elsewhere, Auckland-based promoter Brent Eccles is pleased to hear that Covid-19 rules are set to be relaxed but felt the changes were “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar – a month into autumn.

“We don’t have any outdoor shows in winter, obviously, so that they’ve gone to one hundred per cent capacity outdoors for us right now is a bit meaningless,” said Eccles.

“It’s good for summer, because we have got the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, and Six60 coming. So that’s good that there are no restrictions there.”

The government’s announcement comes too late for a slate of other festivals including The Other Way (Auckland), Outfields music festival (Auckland), Northern Bass (Northland) and Electric Avenue (Christchurch) – all of which have either been cancelled or postponed.


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France to rollback restrictions on live music

France has announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events, starting from the beginning of February.

In the first rollback, the audience capacity limits for seated events will be lifted from 2 February. Currently, indoor seated events are restricted to 2,000 people and outdoor seated events are restricted to 5,000.

In addition, face masks will no longer be required from 2 February.

From 16 February, standing events will be permitted to take place and nightclubs will be allowed to re-open for the first time since 27 December. Eating and drinking will again be allowed in stadiums, cinemas and public transport.

From 16 February, standing events will be permitted to take place and nightclubs will be allowed to re-open

The easing of restrictions has been justified with the introduction of France’s new vaccine passport on 24 January.

From that date, the current health pass will become a vaccine passport for citizens aged over 16.

This means that only citizens who have received one or two doses (depending on the vaccine) will be permitted to attend leisure activities, restaurants and pubs (except for collective catering), fairs, seminars and trade shows as well as long-distance public transport.

Prime minister Jean Castex said 93% of French adults have received at least one dose, and that the pass could even be suspended if the Covid-19 situation improved dramatically.


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NL extends restrictions, announces €84m aid

The Dutch government has announced €84.5 million in emergency funding after extending Covid restrictions until mid-January.

Enduring restrictions include a 1,250-capacity limit for venues and a ban on events between 17:00 and 05:00. Covid entry passes are still mandatory for everyone aged over 13 to attend concerts in the country.

The measures came into effect on 28 November and will be in place until at least Friday 14 January 2022.

Of the €84.5m total, €59.5m is for compensation for the restrictive measures and €25m for the Cultuur+Ondernemen loan service.

Up to 85% of tickets for performances – including those cancelled – will be bought up by the Performing Arts Fund via the so-called renewed supplement scheme.

Up to 85% of tickets for performances – including those cancelled – will be bought up by the Performing Arts Fund

At Cultuur+Ondernemen, loans can be taken out on ‘favourable terms’ for the restart of productions and long-term loans for replenishing reserves. The cabinet is extending the loan facility up to and including the second quarter of 2022 with an additional €25m.

In addition to the measures mentioned, the cabinet will extend the event guarantee scheme (TRSEC) and the Supplementary Allowance for Events (ATE) until the third quarter of 2022. These schemes will come into effect if an event is banned by the central government during this period.

The cabinet will announce further conditions for these schemes at the beginning of 2022.

“I recently spoke with many people who work in the cultural and creative sector,” says minister for culture, Van Engelshoven.

“There is a great need for perspective to keep their people afloat so that creative processes can continue. Many institutions, both subsidised institutions and independent producers, also continue to pay their self-employed persons through the support measures.

“But unfortunately, the support does not reach them all. The extension of this support package will hopefully provide even more breathing room, so that more self-employed people can be reached.”

Other European markets including Sweden and Denmark have recently extended financial support for their live event sectors.


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Omicron in Europe: Latest restrictions on live music

As markets across Europe step up efforts to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, IQ is endeavouring to update the industry on the most recent restrictions affecting live music across the continent.

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

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on 5 January.

Austria will suspend a lockdown for the unvaccinated during year-end holidays, allowing them to meet in groups of up to 10 on three days around Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve.

On 12 December, the government ended the three-week lockdown for vaccinated people across most of the country.

The relaxation, which varies from region to region, largely allows for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues. Masks will still be required in public spaces.

Austria is also set to become the first European country to make Covid vaccinations compulsory, with the law due to take effect from 1 February 2022.

Music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January.

Outdoor events are permitted to take place but social distancing must be maintained and masks are required. Events with more than 100 visitors must have a one-way circulation plan and a separate entrance and exit.

The new rules were introduced on 26 December 2021. Previously, indoor events in Belgium could take place with a seated and masked audience of no more than 200 people.

Music venues, among other indoor cultural institutions, have been ordered to close from 19 December until 17 January 2022.

The Danish parliament has acted quickly to reopen compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at live music association Dansk Live, welcomes the agreement: “Under the circumstances, it’s a good deal. The rapporteurs and the minister have been very outreach in the dialogue around the agreement, and we feel that they have really listened to us. We really appreciate that.”

Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England from 15 December. The wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for: venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs; unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people; and unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people.

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme, meanwhile, followed extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions.

From 3 January, indoor events are limited to 2,000 capacity and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 5,000 people, while nightclubs will remain closed until further notice.

The government said on 17 December it will present a bill early next year to change the French health pass into a vaccination pass. That means people will have to be vaccinated in order to enter music venues and many other leisure and entertainment facilities.

Under the current rules, a recent negative test can serve as a health pass even without vaccination.

The so-called 2G rule (meaning genesen for recovered in the past six months and geimpft for vaccinated) has been extended to cover the whole country – meaning only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid can attend live music venues and other cultural events.

Outdoor events are limited to 50% capacity with a maximum of 15,000 attendees, while indoor gatherings are limited to 50% cap and crowds of up to 5,000. Masks are mandatory at all events.

Nightclubs will be required to close from 28 December. Football matches will be played behind closed doors from that date, with private gatherings restricted to 10 people.

From Monday 20 December, hospitality and cultural venues including music venues, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres must close by 20:00.

All indoor events can operate at 1,000 or 50% capacity and must be fully seated. The number of spectators allowed to attend sporting events is now capped at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 5,000 people. The measures will stay in place until at least 30 January 2022.

Face masks will be obligatory unless people are eating or drinking. Nightclubs — which in October reopened for the first time in 19 months — have been closed since 7 December.

The government has banned concerts until 31 January and extended the country’s state of emergency to 31 March 2022. Nightclubs will also remain closed until the end of this month, and the consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is also banned until the end of March, amid the spread of the omicron variant. The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

For the second time in the space of a week, the Dutch government has imposed tighter restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

It was announced on 18 December that residents will be subject to a full lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.

During this time, music venues will be closed and events will not be permitted. Residents must stay at home as much as possible and adhere to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule when outside.

The Dutch government has put plans to implement a 2G system on hold until the new year, saying there is not currently enough time to draw up the legislation.

Northern Ireland
As of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted. For outdoor and indoor events, either proof of vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or proof of recovery from Covid-19 is required.

As of 13 December, a maximum of 20 people is permitted at public indoor events without fixed allocated seats, and 50 people with fixed allocated seats.

At outdoor public events, a maximum of 100 people is permitted without fixed allocated places, and up to 200 in three cohorts with fixed allocated places.

For all indoor events, whether seated or standing, organisers must ensure that one-metre social distancing can be maintained between attendees. In addition, all attendees at indoor events must wear masks.

Event organisers are required to register guests for track and trace.

From 15 December, nightclubs will close and the maximum number of people allowed in other venues will be reduced from 50% capacity to 30%.

Venues can increase their operating capacity by only admitting vaccinated attendees, with staff required to check vaccination certificates. Face coverings are mandatory inside music venues.

As of 1 December, Covid passports certifying full inoculation, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test result, will be mandatory to access events, restaurants, gyms and other leisure and hospitality businesses. Masks will be required for indoor spaces.

In addition, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to show a negative test to be granted entry to large events without marked seats, sports venues, bars and nightclubs.

From 26 December, bars and nightclubs will be closed, with outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people

For the week of 2–9 January (aka ‘containment week’), working from home will be obligatory, bars will close and school holidays extended to prevent a post-holiday season spread.

Concerts and events in Romania will be staged at 50% capacity to a maximum of 1,000 people (all of whom must be vaccinated) with a 10:00 pm curfew.

As of 6 December, evidence of a negative Covid test – from either a lateral flow test or PCR – is included in Scotland’s Covid-19 passport scheme. Previously, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination.

The Scottish government is implementing further restrictions on large-scale events and public spaces from 26 December.

From 27 December until the first week in January, when it is reviewed, the government is advising people to limit their social contacts, to adhere to social distancing advice and to stay at home where possible. Nightclubs will be closed for three weeks from that date.

As of 3 December, Covid certification demonstrating proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test is required to enter music venues, bars, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, care homes, or attend events in hotels and restaurants with indoor dance floors. For indoor standing events, capacity is set at 80% maximum.

Indoor events with between 20 and 500 attendees that don’t require vaccinations certificates must now be seated. For events with more than 500 participants, vaccinations certificates and social distancing are required.

Groups must be able to keep a distance of at least one meter sideways and forwards and backwards from other groups. If a group is larger than eight people, the organiser must divide the party with a maximum of eight participants in each.

The restrictions were introduced on 23 December and the effect will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

As of 6 December, masks will have to be worn indoors wherever a certificate obligation applies. Events and venues, both indoor and outdoor, will be allowed to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated or recovered. The measures will be in effect until 24 January.

Large events are prohibited with maximum numbers of 30 at an indoor event and 50 outdoors. Nightclubs must close.

The NHS Covid Pass is needed for entry to concert halls and many other venues. Face masks are still required in most public places.


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