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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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More European markets set to relax restrictions

Several European countries have begun relaxing Covid restrictions amid hopes the Omicron wave has peaked in certain parts of the continent.

Large indoor events will resume and nightclubs permitted to reopen in Scotland from 24 January in acknowledgement of a “severe fall” in infection rates. Outdoor events were given the green light to welcome back spectators from 17 January.

The tightened measures had been in place since 26 December last year. First minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the country had “turned the corner on the Omicron wave”, as reported positive cases dropped to 20,268 over the last three days compared to 36,526 in the same period last week.

In England, all remaining coronavirus measures – including mandatory self-isolation for confirmed infections – could be lifted as early as March under plans being drawn up by the government.

In Wales, the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event rose from 50 to 500 from 15 January. From this Friday, crowds will be allowed to return to sporting events and there will be no limits on those attending outdoor events.

The developments provide renewed encouragement for the live sector after a growing number of early 2022 tours were cancelled or postponed over Covid fears

And from Friday 28 January, nightclubs can reopen and hospitality venues will be allowed to operate normally, although Covid passes will still be required for large events, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres.

The developments provide renewed encouragement for the live sector after a growing number of early 2022 tours were cancelled or postponed over Covid fears.

However, in Sweden, a 500 capacity limit is being imposed on live events from tomorrow (19 January), although an event is permitted to host more than 500 people if the organiser divides the room so that participants from different sections do not come into contact with each other. In such cases, the 500-person limit applies to each section.

Research from the Netherlands, meanwhile, suggests the country’s 2G (covering people who have either vaccinated or recovered from Covid in the past six months) and 3G (vaccinated/recovered/tested negative) restrictions are cutting cases by just under 10% and 5% respectively.

The Dutch live sector’s hopes for a swift reopening were dashed over the weekend, with a review on the reopening of cultural venues not due to take place until 25 January.

 


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UK markets announce plans to ease restrictions

Wales and Scotland have announced plans to roll back their Covid-19 restrictions.

In Scotland, restrictions on large outdoor events will come to an end on Monday 17 January.

The move will allow fans to return to outdoor concerts and football matches, after Covid restrictions were put in place on Boxing Day, reducing outdoor events to a capacity of 500.

Event organisers will now have to check the vaccine certification of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people, depending on which figure is higher.

From Monday the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.

It will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Nightclubs have been closed since 26 December but the First Minister has said that all restrictions, including the closure of nightclubs, could be lifted from 24 January.

Scotland has said that all restrictions, including the closure of nightclubs, could be lifted from 24 January

In Wales, the First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced the relaxing of the rules and stated that the peak of the Omicron wave is now behind the country.

The relaxation will begin this Saturday (15 January) when the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event will rise from 50 to 500.

From Friday 21 January, crowds will be allowed to return to sporting events and there will be no limits on those attending outdoor events.

From Friday 28 January, nightclubs can reopen and hospitality venues will be allowed to operate normally, although Covid passes will still be required for large events, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres.

From Thursday 10 February, Wales will return to a three-week review cycle as the country returns to alert level 0.

From 28 January, nightclubs in Wales can reopen and hospitality venues will be allowed to operate normally

Northern Ireland is also considering lifting some Covid-19 restrictions next week, First Minister Paul Givan has revealed.

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

Nightclubs are currently closed while hospitality businesses are operating under a series of restrictions. Givan said businesses needed to be able to operate “normally”.

He added that relaxation would depend on health advice received by the executive ahead of its meeting next week, but stressed that so far the picture was “encouraging”.

In England, restrictions were last updated on 15 December, from which point vaccine passports and facemasks have been required in order to attend concerts.

The wearing of face masks is mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates are 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.

 


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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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NZ’s new traffic-light system causes first disruptions

The fate of New Zealand’s upcoming festival season is to be determined by a new traffic-light system, which came into effect last night.

Under the new system, each region in the country has been assigned a colour (green, orange or red) based on vaccination rates and the spread of Covid-19 in the community, as well as a set of corresponding restrictions.

In regions assigned ‘red’, venues using vaccine certificates are limited to 100 people with 1-metre social distancing.

In ‘orange’ regions, these venues face no limits on gatherings at events, retail, hospitality.

Venues that don’t use vaccine certificates are not permitted indoor or outdoor events under red or orange.

“Getting vaccinated is how we can return to the shows and festivals we love”

Auckland is among a number of regions in the North Island that have been assigned ‘red’. Wellington, Waikato and all of the South Island are among the regions moving to orange. No region starts at green.

The traffic-light system is bad news for Live Nation-owned festival Rhythm and Vines, which was scheduled to take place on New Year’s Eve in Gisborne – currently ‘red’ on the system.

Organisers yesterday announced that, for the first time in the festival’s 19-year history, the event will be rescheduled to 15 April until 17 April 2022.

In a statement, the festival organisers said: “Rhythm and Vines’ mission has [been] and always will be a safe and secure festival for all involved, and [we] believe this decision will allow us to keep delivering the best festival experience that over 400,000 young Kiwis have enjoyed since 2003.

Northern Bass refuses to pull the plug yet, even though the event site in Mangawhai falls under a ‘red’ light

“Rhythm and Vines would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has continued to support this year’s festival including all staff, contractors, artists and suppliers who will have been affected by this decision.

“Getting vaccinated is how we can return to the shows and festivals we love and we encourage everyone to #vaxforlive.”

Elsewhere, New Year’s Eve drum and bass festival Northern Bass refuses to pull the plug yet, even though the event site in Mangawhai has been assigned ‘red’.

The festival organisers say they are crossing their fingers for an orange light status after the next update from the government on 13 December.

“We won’t cancel [yet] – there’s no reason to cancel,” event organiser Gareth Popham told Stuff. “We’ve sold 11,500 tickets and currently have 10,000 kids on a waiting list wanting tickets.”

The sold-out event is set to be headlined by British DJ Andy C and electronic music duo Chase & Status.

Meanwhile, Auckland-born Lorde has postponed her Solar Power Tour until 2023, citing uncertainty around Covid and international touring.

Auckland’s Outerfields festival, originally scheduled for March 6th 2021, has been beset by Covid delays twice and is now tabled for 3 December 2022.

 


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Q&A: Move Concerts boss details LatAm’s recovery

As markets across Latin America gradually reopen, Phil Rodriguez of Move Concerts – the biggest independent concert promoter in the region – says he’s optimistic about the region’s recovery.

Emerging from the most difficult year in live music history, Rodriguez expects the industry to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic “stronger and wiser”.

However, according to the Move Concerts boss, there are a number of obstacles that stand between Latam’s industry and a full recovery.

Below, Rodriguez outlines those obstacles, reflects on the lessons learnt from the pandemic, and addresses “the elephant in the room”…

IQ: How is Latin America’s return to business going?
PR: It’s a patchwork of different sets of rules and regulations per country so it has been a challenge to get them all aligned to have a proper tour of the region. But we’re finally getting there!

In which markets are you now able to fully operate?
Puerto Rico was able to start at full capacity (with proof of vaccination) as of August and business has been incredible. Not only have the shows been selling out, but single dates became multiples. That market came back STRONG.

What’s the deal with vaccine passports and capacity restrictions in Latam?
As noted, it’s a patchwork. Brazil is operating at 70% capacity with proof of vaccination and will open to 100% this week. Argentina will open at 100% capacity with proof of vaccination and with requirements for face masks from 16 November.

Uruguay is at 55% without vaccination and 70% with vaccination. Colombia will be at 100% capacity for vaccinated people from 16 November. Chile is currently held to 40% and in some cases 60% capacity – vaccinated and socially distanced. The expectation is to be open at 100% for the vaccinated by January 2022. Costa Rica will be at 100% as of March 2022 for the vaccinated.

“The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us”

Where has Move’s focus been since markets started to open up?
Rescheduling, booking new tours for the end of 2022 and 2023. Plus our management company and indie record label, Grand Move Records, which are both at full speed.

What opportunities do you see during this recovery period?
The chance to reinvent ourselves and look outside our comfort zone. We all had to do this during the pandemic. We should not get complacent once we return to some normalcy and forget that.

What are the challenges you’re facing right now? 
The lack of cancellation insurance for Covid is the elephant in the room for all of us. The rest we can deal with but will still present a strong challenge such as inflation and devaluation of currencies – which have been hit hard by the pandemic – and the economic consequences of the lockdowns, etc.

How long do you think it’ll take for Latam to get back to pre-pandemic levels of business?
The Covid issue, in my opinion, has been both a health and political issue, unfortunately, and that has not helped us get a better picture of what is ahead of us. But if by the second half of 2022, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we will ALL have bigger problems to worry about. That said, I’m an optimist by nature and I think we’ll come out of this wiser and stronger!

“If by the second half of ’22, we are not on a solid road to pre-pandemic levels, we’ll all have bigger problems to worry about”

When and how do you see international acts coming back to Latin America?
In South America, we kick off with a-ha in March 2022 – Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Move hosted Latam’s first drive-thru show during the pandemic. Is that a format you’ll be returning to?
Not really…we do not see the need nor demand for this any longer as live concerts startup.

What about livestreaming – is there still demand in that area of the business?
This has essentially stopped. With the return of live shows – with reduced capacities – streaming has lost its initial appeal. I’m sure it will still be a good tool to have in our toolbox for use in the future but in a different form… more related to marketing or a special event, etc.

What one thing are you most proud of doing during the pandemic?
That we kept all our team in place and did not have to furlough or lay off anyone. We all took salary cuts and weathered the storm together.

Also, our office in Bogota took the initiative and created an internet site with different content – entertainment, cooking, lifestyle, etc – that raised over US$10,000 to support the local production crews and their families in the middle of the pandemic. That was a fabulous effort that made me very proud of our team there.

 


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VNPF demands further support for Dutch live sector

The Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals (VNPF) has warned the sector will remain in need of financial support as long as Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.

The warning follows the recent publication of its new Pop Stages and Festivals in Figures 2020 report, based on data from 101 Dutch music venues and festivals.

According to the study, revenue from ticket sales and catering at domestic shows plummeted from €121.7 million in 2019 to €29.7m last year as a result of the pandemic.

“In 2020, almost 23,000 fewer performances were given by artists than in 2019,” says the report. “For pop venues affiliated with the VNPF, this led to €92m less income. As a result, many employees lost their jobs. The impact of the pandemic on the entire live music industry is still profound today.”

The damage was mitigated by generic and sector-specific support, with 83% of music venues receiving additional financial resources from support measures. However, events in the country are currently restricted to 75% capacity and are required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET.

Financial support remains necessary as long as restrictive measures are still in place

“The VNPF expects similar or worse results in 2021,” it concludes. “Financial support, such as guarantee schemes… are still very much needed. With the end of the generic support measures as of 1 October, pop venues and festivals, artists and suppliers could run into further problems, now that programming and receiving audiences at full capacity and at night is still not possible.

“There is understanding for restrictive measures that combat the coronavirus, because the stages and festivals want nothing more than for society to be able to open fully again, but the measures must be effective and proportional. In addition, financial support remains necessary as long as restrictive measures are still in place.”

In September, the Dutch event sector lost summary proceedings brought against the state due to the latest restrictions. Twenty organisations including Mojo, ID&T, Unmute Us and Apenkooi Events demanded in court that all events and club nights be allowed again without restrictions on capacity and time.

The sector has continuously argued that the government restrictions do not reflect the three months’ worth of findings from the Fieldlab Evenementen studies. However, the judge said that the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) factored in the results when giving advice to the outgoing cabinet.

The Dutch government has attempted to soften the blow of the restrictions by announcing a €15m fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows – on top of its €385m guarantee fund.

 


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Irish industry “devastated” by unexpected restrictions

The Republic of Ireland’s concerts business has been dealt a blow after the government announced new restrictions on standing at indoor live events.

As part of the latest phase of public health measures in the country, the Irish government has today said that audiences for indoor live music, along with drama, live entertainment and sporting events, must be fully seated from 22 October, with standing permitted only at seats.

The move, which follows a rise in Covid-19 hospitalisations, will impact any standing-only events booked by promoters. Covid-19 digital certificates will also continue be required for indoor activities.

Shane Dunne, of Ireland’s biggest promoter MCD, says the development is “devastating” news for the domestic live music scene.

“There’s a bit of spin out there that there’s some good news here [but] make no mistake about it, today is a devastating day for the commercial live music business in Ireland,” he writes on Twitter.

“Make no mistake about it, today is a devastating day for the commercial live music business in Ireland”

The country’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that masks and social distancing remain in place until February next year.

From 6 September, indoor events and mass gatherings in Ireland were able to take place at 60% of a venue’s capacity where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 within the previous six months).

The government had previously set out its intention to effectively end all restrictions from 22 October.

BD Festival, which was due to take place this weekend in Glendalough, Wicklow, had already postponed to next spring following comments by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.  A statement on its Facebook page said: “The lack of clarity and resultant uncertainty reinforces our decision to postpone the event until April 2022. BD Festival cannot operate with any hint of social distancing or public health measures. Unfortunately BD Festival was planned and tickets were sold on the basis that there would be no restrictions or any public health measures in place.

“This edition of BD Festival was two years in the making. To say that we are devastated and heartbroken is an understatement.”

Several promoters have told IQ that cancellations of existing shows are now imminent.

 


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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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Dutch event sector loses summary proceedings

The Dutch event sector has lost the summary proceedings that were brought against the state due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Twenty organisations including Mojo, ID&T, Unmute Us and Apenkooi Events demanded in court that all events and club nights be allowed again without restrictions on capacity and time.

As of 25 September, indoor events are restricted to 75% capacity of the venue and are required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET.

The Dutch event sector has continuously argued that the government restrictions do not reflect the three months’ worth of findings from the Fieldlab Evenementen studies.

However, the judge said that the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has, in fact, factored in the results when giving advice to the outgoing cabinet: “That has led to a decision to gradually relax with the abolition of the one and a half meter measure, but with additional measures for indoor events.

“The reason we are still not allowed to open completely is not substantiated”

“This does not lead to an unjustified distinction with other branches. The necessity of the measures taken for indoor events has been explained by the State and that explanation is not incomprehensible.”

The organisations that went to court say they are deeply disappointed.

MOJO director Ruben Brouwer says: “Over a year and a half ago we were the first to close and now we are at the back of the queue to be able to open fully again despite all our efforts. The cabinet continues to focus on keeping our sector closed even longer and has even asked us not to organise dance parties because they could not legally prohibit this. We are considering steps to be taken, but we must and will continue towards the autumn and we will do everything we can to organise the events for visitors and artists in the best possible and safe way.”

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group, adds: “We are extremely disappointed. We have been standing still for over 18 months and in that time have demonstrated through various Fieldlabs, together with the government, that we can safely organise events. The reason we are still not allowed to open completely is not substantiated.

“The Fieldlab advice explicitly states that organising events at 100% capacity, both indoor and outdoor, is safe if the guidelines from the research are followed. Our Fieldlab results are successfully used in Belgium to organise events safely, at 100% capacity. It is incomprehensible that we in the Netherlands still have to remain partly closed while the very last step would be that the 1.5 meters would go off. Now we are the very last step.

“We must show solidarity with society, but where is the solidarity towards us?”

Jasper Goossen, on behalf of newly formed campaign group Unmute Us, says: “We are despondent by the wall we keep running into. It is frustrating that the judge apparently cannot allow our investigation results to outweigh arbitrary advice and decisions from the OMT and the cabinet, but we will continue to fight for the preservation of our sector. We recently took to the streets with more than 150,000 people to demonstrate how essential our sector is. Besides the fact that our sector guarantees more than 100,000 jobs, it also provides an essential social outlet for young and old. We must show solidarity with society, but where is the solidarity towards us?”

The Dutch government has attempted to soften the blow of the restrictions by announcing a €15 million fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows – on top of its €385m guarantee fund.

Lowlands festival director Eric van Eerdenburg last week told the International Festival Forum (IFF) that the guarantee fund helped to “keep the festival infrastructure alive” and that the industry was looking at implementing a long-term contingency plan for unforeseen circumstances like Covid.

“As an industry, we’re looking at an alliance right now and adding a levy of €1 per ticket to go towards an insurance fund for unforeseen circumstances like Covid,” says van Eerdenburg.

Eerdenburg went on to say that the fans also played a crucial part in keeping the business alive during the Covid-19 pandemic due to a vast majority holding onto tickets.

“The audiences have been our bank,” the Lowlands director said. “A ticket is like a crowdfunding exercise. Even after the second round of cancellations we said we’d pay everyone back, and the audience didn’t want it. We should be grateful to our audiences because without them everyone would have gone bust.”

 


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