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Barcelona’s Cruïlla pushes ahead with ‘bubble’ plan

Cruïlla, one of Barcelona’s three major international music festivals, is continuing to plan for a summer 2021 edition.

Cruïlla 2021, headlined by Two Door Cinema Club, Editors, Morcheeba, Of Monsters and Men and local acts Kase O and Natos y Waor, is scheduled for 8–10 July at the Parc del Fòrum (also usually home to Primavera Sound). Taking inspiration from 27 March’s Love of Lesbian concert at the Palau Sant Jordi arena, which will utilise rapid Covid-19 testing to enable 5,000 people to attend, organisers hope to create a “sanitary bubble” of healthy festivalgoers so Cruïlla can go ahead as planned, according to promoter Barcelona Events Musicals.

The idea, which has also been floated by festivals in neighbouring Portugal, is to require all festivalgoers to test negative for Covid-19 using rapid antigen tests – which, in the case of the Love of Lesbian show, means the Sant Jordi “will be safer to be in the audience than walking down the street, because everyone in the audience will have had a negative result”.

“We will prove we have the right health protocols in place to get back to dancing, singing and hugging in complete safety”

For Cruïlla, the plan for 2021 is to “create a sanitary bubble in the Parc del Fòrum that will allow us to offer a music festival in the same conditions, or very similar, to those we enjoyed before Covid-19,” says the festival.

Barcelona’s other major festival, Advanced Music’s Sónar (80,000-cap.), has yet to elaborate on its plans for 2021, although it is still scheduled for 17–19 June.

Cruïlla held a socially distanced concert series, Cruïlla XXS, in place of its flagship event last summer. While this “was a great example of civility, in which we showed that there are ways of doing culture safely”, the event is committed to returning without restrictions in July.

“This summer, we will go one step further and prove that we have the right health protocols in place to get back to dancing, singing and hugging in complete safety,” say organisers.


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Portuguese festivals eye ‘Covid-free bubbles’

Portugal’s music festivals are looking into the possibility of restricting entry to ‘bubbles’ of vaccinated fans as a way of enabling their events to go ahead safely this summer.

A proposal to create infection-free “safe bubbles”, comprising fans “who are already vaccinated against Covid-19 [and carrying] their vaccination records”, was presented to the Portuguese government by the Association of Promoters, Shows, Festivals and Events (APEFE) in a meeting with the minister of culture, Graça Fonseca, on 15 January.

The meeting, also attended by the Association of Portuguese Music Festivals (Aporfest) and the new Association of Show Agents and Producers (AEAPP), also led to creation of of an industry-government working group that aims to find a solution to restarting live entertainment in Portugal in 2021.

Speaking to the Lusa news agency, Aporfest president Ricardo Bramão explained that while the meeting yielded no “guarantees” from government that there could be festivals this summer, “a door was opened” for festivals to present “specific solutions” as to how they could go ahead.

The ‘bubble’ solution, as being explored by APEFE, takes inspiration from hospitals, where a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination is required for certain procedures, says the association’s head, NOS Alive festival director Álvaro Covões.

Speaking to Blitz, Covões explains: “What we are trying to study is the possibility of creating bubbles for events, as is done today in hospitals. To be operated on, you have to be tested, and you may only enter the hospital after you have been tested.”

“What we are trying to study is the possibility of creating bubbles for events”

“Travel is also a bubble,” he adds. “Theoretically, to get on a plane people must all be tested and be negative [for Covid-19].”

The APEFE solution is similar to the yet-to-be-implemented ‘Full Capacity Plan’ introduced last summer by Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn, which would only permit entry to those who test negative for the coronavirus.

The festival bubbles, however, should be even more rigorously enforced in hospitals, where staff are not tested every day, continues Covões.

The NOS Alive boss adds that similar conversations are currently taking place in other countries, including neighbouring Spain. “Barcelona, ​​for example, is very focused on this, both the municipality and the autonomous government [of Catalonia],” he adds, “because they have Sónar and Primavera Sound and they absolutely want to be working at that time, because otherwise they lose another economic year.”

The next meeting – between APEFE, Aporfest, AEAPP and APSTE (Portuguese Association of Technical Services for Events) on one side, and Fonseca, the State Secretariat for Tourism and the State Secretariat for Health on the other – is scheduled for this Wednesday (3 February).


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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