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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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