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Nile Rodgers to be interviewed by Ed Bicknell at ILMC 34

In what might be the biggest Breakfast Meeting ever seen at ILMC, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Grammy and Ivor Novello awarded guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers will be interviewed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell at the forthcoming ILMC (International Live Music Conference).

Having worked with a who’s who of contemporary music including David Bowie, Madonna, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Daft Punk and Lady Gaga. Rodgers is a genre-defying musician whose career stretches over five decades. The Chic co-founder has written, produced and performed on albums that have sold over 500 million units worldwide, and 75 million singles, and in 2018, he co-founded Hipgnosis Songs with Merck Mercuriadis.

His unforgettable live performances with CHIC cover his entire discography and have been included in “festival best performances” at both Glastonbury and Coachella resulting in a BBC Music Awards nomination for “Best Live Performance”, and the LA Times stating, “Nile Rodgers influence stretches all over Coachella, beaming the sound of a better future”.

Meanwhile, Ed Bicknell is a highly successful music manager, best known for working with Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, Gerry Rafferty, Bryan Ferry, Scott Walker and The Blue Nile.

“No one has as many different perspectives on the music business as Nile… it’s going be a truly memorable conversation”

ILMC head Greg Parmley says: “Between Hipgnosis, writing, recording, launching roller-skating pop-up parties, performing in support of the Ukraine crisis, and a huge summer of upcoming live shows, we’re honoured that Nile has found time to come over for ILMC. No one has as many different perspectives on the music business as Nile… it’s going be a truly memorable conversation.”

ILMC 34 will take place at London’s Royal Garden Hotel from 26-29 April 2022. Other sessions include a Hot Seat interview with global live agency head Casey, and renowned musician, producer and visual artist Brian Eno in conversation with acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer Aurora, as part of the Green Events & Innovations Conference, which takes place within ILMC this year.

Other confirmed speakers include Phil Bowdery (Live Nation), Lucy Dickins (WME), John Giddings (Solo Agency), Jessica Koravos (Oak View Group), Obi Asika (UTA), Alex Hill (AEG) and Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio).

ILMC has been the foremost meeting place for live music professionals worldwide for over 30 years. Over 1,000 delegates from 40 markets are expected to attend this year’s in-person event.

The (Late) Breakfast Meeting with Nile Rodgers takes place on Thursday 28 April at 16:50 BST.

Full information about the conference including schedule, events and partners is at 34.ilmc.com

 


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Spanish teens to receive €400 culture vouchers

Spanish citizens who turn 18 in 2022 will be given a voucher worth €400 to spend on culture as part of government plans to rebuild the sector.

The Youth Cultural Bonus was approved by ministers this week, with the aim of generating new habits of cultural consumption for young people post-pandemic, with public spending on cultural goods and services falling 15.8% in 2020.

Recipients will have one year to spend the grant, and will be able to spend a maximum of €200 on live art including music concerts and festivals, and up to €100 each on physical cultural products and online or digital consumption. The scheme comes into effect in June.

“In order to counteract the negative effects of the health, economic and social crisis… the government of Spain, through the ministry of culture and sports, has arbitrated a set of measures and actions aimed at guaranteeing the sustainability of the cultural and creative industries in our country, while promoting citizen access to culture,” reads the decree signed by Spanish culture minister Miquel Octavi Iceta Llorens.

“The Youth Cultural Voucher project seeks to facilitate universal and diversified access to culture for young people, generate new habits of cultural consumption and strengthen existing ones”

“The Youth Cultural Voucher project seeks to facilitate universal and diversified access to culture for young people, generate new habits of cultural consumption and strengthen existing ones, create new audiences, stimulate demand and reduce the negative impact caused by the pandemic on various cultural sectors in our country. In short, promote loyalty that generates the habit of consuming cultural products in young people so that, as adults, they continue to consume cultural products regularly.”

According to AP Musicales, almost 500,000 people in Spain will be eligible, with beneficiaries to be granted several virtual prepaid cards for each of the three categories. Spending on bullfighting, fashion, sports, gastronomy or stationery products is not permitted.

The announcement notes that similar schemes have been initiated in nearby countries such as France and Italy.

 


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Finland to roll back restrictions from mid-Feb

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

According to the cabinet, the number of Covid-19 infections nationwide remains high, but the number of cases requiring intensive care has “decreased considerably”.

Most importantly for the live music sector, 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.

“We believe that we do not currently have the legal prerequisites in place to introduce a Covid pass”

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.

While the passes could be reintroduced in the future in case of changing circumstances such as new variants, it would require some amendments to the law.

“We believe that we do not currently have the legal prerequisites in place to introduce a Covid pass,” said Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin. “The THL feels that there is no longer an epidemiological basis for it; that is, we cannot use the pass to bypass restrictions at this point. It would mean restricting the fundamental rights of a citizen. We cannot do that if it’s not absolutely necessary.”

Today’s news will come as a welcome relief for Finland’s live sector which, according to Pearle’s 2022 Map of Europe, is currently subject to the strictest restrictions in Europe.

 


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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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European markets tighten rules on indoor events

A number of key European markets have tightened restrictions on live music in a bid to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

In Belgium, 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.

In Sweden, 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.

In Belgium, music venues are to be shuttered and all indoor mass events are prohibited until at least 28 January

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.

In Wales, 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.

In Northern Ireland, as of 26 December, indoor standing events are not permitted

In 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.

In France, as of yesterday (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.

See a full overview of the latest live music restrictions affecting key European markets here.

 


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Freedom Day ‘bittersweet’ for UK live sector

Today (19 July) sees Freedom Day in the UK, so-called due to the relaxation of all legal restrictions imposed on live events that had been imposed due to COVID-19. But within hours of rules being relaxed, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that full vaccinations will be required for entry into nightclubs and venues with large crowds from September.

As of today, in England, all live events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements and attendees are no longer be legally required to wear a face mask.

But against a backdrop of rising levels of infection across the UK, most nightclub operators have chosen not to enforce any level of certification, or ask patrons to provide proof of a recent test or vaccination.  In response today, officials have said that all attendees will have to be double-jabbed, and a negative test will be insufficient.

“There is still no commercial solution and it requires urgent intervention”

The new inbound restrictions come in addition to ongoing concerns about a lack of government-backed cancellation insurance, despite 56% of major summer festivals having already cancelled for a second year running.

“The lifting of restrictions today is bittersweet for the live music sector,” says a spokesperson from LIVE, the industry’s umbrella trade org. “The Government has repeatedly promised it would step in and the UK is now one of just a handful of countries across Europe not to act.”

“The sector has provided every shred of data and evidence Government has requested to support the case for insurance and the Secretary of State has repeatedly and publicly committed to act at Step 4 of the roadmap,” adds Paul Reed, CEO at the Association of Independent Festivals. “There is still no commercial solution and it requires urgent intervention”.

And insurance is not the only obstacle that remains. Earlier this afternoon. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s new production, Cinderella, was postponed indefinitely after cast members were told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app, having come into contact with a positive case. The show’s cancellation will be worrying news for many festival and event organisers.

“The impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue”

“Freedom Day has turned into closure day,” says Lloyd Weber. “The impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue. We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show… My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words.

Campaign groups from across the sector are calling for a cultural exemption to the isolation requirements through frequent testing, arguing that the 16 August rule change to allow double vaccinated not self-isolated when ‘pinged’ comes too late.

In addition to a Government-backed insurance scheme, associations and companies from across the sector also continue to call for a quarantine exemption, which would allow the arts the same exemption that professional elite sport has obtained. The exemption from sport has enabled football teams from around Europe to travel to the UK to play in the European Championship without quarantining.

 


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Canada’s 2021 budget includes $50m for live music

The Canadian government has reserved up to C$50 million (US$40m) in the newly announced budget to help the live music sector weather the pandemic during 2021 and 2022.

The budget was announced yesterday (19 April) by finance minister Chrystia Freeland, who vowed to “punch our way out of the Covid recession” with $101 billion (US$81bn) in spending over three years.

The Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) has welcomed the federal budget which it says “acknowledges our hardest hit sector” by delegating $70m to the Canada Music Fund, including the $50m earmarked specifically for live music and live music venues.

“Today, our collective voice which we all worked so hard to raise, has been heard. It is with great relief that we welcome budget 2021, which clearly recognises the integral role the Canadian live music industry plays in our quality of life – as well as its significant economic, social, and cultural benefits,” says Erin Benjamin, CLMA president and CEO.

“This support will help safeguard our nation’s critical cultural infrastructure – and the incredible artists and community”

“Our industry has been devastated as a result of Covid-19. This support will help safeguard our nation’s critical cultural infrastructure – and the incredible people, artists and community whose passion and livelihood is live music. We look forward to working with the government to ensure it reaches each and every company and organisation who needs it. With today’s historic budget, our government has helped us to believe in the future – and we can’t wait to get there, together.”

Other highlights from the budget include:

Last year, the government supported the sector by allowing organisations operating in the for-profit live music industry access to a CA$20m (€13m) Covid-19 support fund.


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UK industry reacts to reopening roadmap

Indoor performances are expected to return to music venues across England towards the end of May, provided the country’s Covid-19 response is going as planned, prime minister Boris Johnson announced today (22 February).

Johnson has set out a “cautious” four-step roadmap for the reopening of society, with at least five weeks between each step. The first step commences on 8 March when children will return to schools, while outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed from no earlier than 29 March.

Step two, which will commence no earlier than 12 April, will see non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality open without curfew.

Step three, expected to launch no earlier than 17 May, will see music venues, sports stadiums cinemas, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses welcome people indoors subject to social distancing and capacity limits, depending on the size of the venue.

Indoor performances will be restricted to the lower of 1,000 people or 50% capacity, outdoor performances limited to the lower of either 4,000 people or 50% capacity, and seated outdoor performances, to either 10,000 people or 25% of capacity.

The final step, which will start no earlier than 21 June, will see the government lift all restrictions, allowing nightclubs to reopen and large events to take place “above the limits of step three”.

The final step, estimated to start around 21 June, will see the government lift all restrictions

Larger events in step four will be influenced by the results of a new research programme which is detailed in new supplementary guidance that states: ‘Over the spring the government will run a scientific Events Research Programme. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.

‘The pilots will start in April. The government will bring the findings from across different sectors and different settings to determine a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on these events. Depending on the outcome of this work, the government hopes to be able to lift restrictions on these events and sectors as part of Step 4.’

However, the PM has stipulated that to move from one stage to the next, four conditions will need to be met: first, that the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully. Second, that evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

Third, that infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. And fourth, that the government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of Covid that cause concern.

While the UK live industry has welcomed some clarity from the prime minister, it has also expressed disappointment at being the last to reopen and is calling for extended financial support to sustain the sector throughout the next four months.

“We need the government to commit urgently to an extension of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales and employment support”

A statement issued by recently-launched umbrella trade organisation LIVE says, “The Chancellor now has a choice to make as it is clear live music will be closed, or uneconomical, for the months ahead, with a return to normality not possible at least 21 June, four long months away. Support for businesses and individuals must continue and, in particular, when the Government looks at unwinding the general support packages, they must replace them with sector-specific support for the industries that will take longer than anyone else to reopen.”

Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE, says: “While it is good to get some clarity following almost a year of confusion, as predicted our £4.5 billion industry is at the back of the queue to reopen. Any return to normality for live music could be months behind the rest of the economy. The chancellor must acknowledge our extended closure in the budget and provide the economic support needed to ensure the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people that work in our industry exist as we come through this pandemic.

“We need the government to commit urgently to an extension of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales and employment support that reaches all those unable to work due to the restrictions. To reopen, the sector needs a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead when it’s safe to do so, and with venues shuttered across the UK, an extension of business rates relief would be both fair and necessary.”

“Today’s statement must be accompanied with comprehensive financial support”

David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition, says: “While the prime minister’s statement offers some green shoots of hope for live music, there is some way to go before we return to pre-pandemic levels of activity. A cautious approach is right to protect lives and reopening too early would be counter-intuitive for the industry’s long-term outlook. However, the government must adhere to its own advice, allowing data to guide decision making, so that we can return immediately when it is safe to do so.

“Ahead of full reopening, government has to learn from previous mistakes and listen to the industry. Last year’s slow response on income support and other financial assistance led to the closure of businesses and the loss of livelihoods. Today’s statement must be accompanied with comprehensive financial support for individuals plus insurance and businesses support measures, including an extension to the reduced VAT rate on event tickets. This will allow the music industry to bounce back effectively and contribute its full potential to the UK’s economic recovery.”

“It is logical that the government will choose to address [our] specific status with sector-specific financial support”

Mark Dayvd, CEO, Music Venue Trust, says: “It is good to hear the government provide conditions under which initially socially distanced events, and then fuller capacity events, can take place. Based on this information, it is now possible to imagine how we Revive Live in grassroots music venues and develop that work into the full return of our domestic music scene.

“We note that this roadmap once again singles out live performance events as a specific risk which require that the sector is treated in a special way. Since March 2020, we have made the case to the government that if this is the case, based on their interpretation of the data, then it is logical that the government will choose to address that specific status with sector-specific financial support to mitigate the damage being done to businesses and people’s lives, careers and families right across the live music industry.

“In light of today’s announcements, the budget next week must clearly lay out exactly how the government is going to provide that sector-specific support. We warmly welcome the government’s acknowledgement of the value of nightlife, committing to not reinstating a curfew and including nightclubs within the reopening timetable.”

“The real risk that suppliers to events face is collapse”

David Keighley, chair, PSA, says: “Whilst we fully understand the risk-averse approach to reopening, government needs to be aware that live events excel in a risk-assessed approach, with the safety of attendees and workers always prioritised. The real risk that suppliers to events face is collapse, to avoid this will require effective financial support that reaches the whole events ecosystem, real support until our sector is allowed to return to viable levels of activity. This is the only way to ensure this valuable economic contributor is in a position to play its essential part in our country’s recovery.”

Paul Reed, CEO, AIF, says: “We welcome the prime minister’s roadmap out of lockdown, presented to the house of commons this afternoon, and are optimistic that many of our member festivals may be able to go ahead in some capacity later on this year. There are still, however, some urgent points of clarity that need to be made around the exact requirements that festival organisers will need to meet, in particular around testing and covid certification.

“We look forward to engaging closely with government on the Events Research Programme and again stress that we are rapidly approaching the decision cut off point for the vast majority of festivals at the end of March. If a complete picture is not given by this time, it will be too late for many to stage events later in the year.

“We also appreciate that this is a best-case scenario and that the government reserves the right to delay the easing of lockdown restrictions if the data dictates. Festival organisers only want to return when it is safe to do so but, if the easing of restrictions does lose momentum and events are suddenly cancelled as a result, it is vital that our sector receives swift and targeted government support to compensate. In addition, government intervention on insurance and VAT remain critical.”

The NHS has so far vaccinated more than 17.5 million people across the UK and the PM hopes to have every adult vaccinated by the end of July.

 


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French gov rolls out €220m package for live sector

In a bid to encourage event organisers to resume live entertainment, the French government has announced €220 million dedicated to the live sector.

The funding is part of a wider €2bn culture recovery package, which was announced yesterday (3 September), and is followed by a €100bn campaign to restart the economy – France Relance (France Relaunch).

As part of the €220m siphoned off for live shows, the music sector will receive €200m. Details of how the funding will be awarded have not yet been revealed.

“Culture, at the heart of our intimate construction and of our social cohesion, a marker of France’s international influence, has been very hard hit by the health crisis,” reads the culture recovery plan.

“The stake of the recovery plan in culture is both to rebuild the cultural sectors and to overhaul cultural policies”

“With 2 billion euros for Culture, the response is massive and global. The stake of the recovery plan in culture is both to rebuild the cultural sectors and to overhaul cultural policies, in order to be able to support the resumption of activity and to project oneself into the future.”

The National Music Center, which will be entrusted with distributing the live music sector’s funding, will also receive €10m from the live sector package.

This money will be used to complete the ramp-up of the organisation, which was launched at the start of this year and specialises in crisis management.

The French government recently permitted indoor concerts without social distancing providing there are fewer than 5,000 people in attendance, however, larger events will be banned until November.

 


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Italy and Spain reclose nightlife establishments

This article was updated on 19 August, replacing the wording “music venues” with “nightlife establishments”.

Nightlife establishments in Spain and Italy were forced to close with immediate effect over the weekend due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases in both countries.

Spain’s closure of discotheques, cocktail bars and dance halls will be in place for the foreseeable future and was confirmed last Friday (14 August) by health minister Salvador Illa.

“We cannot afford not to be disciplined,” Illa said. “We cannot ignore the virus circulating among us.”

Infections in Spain have risen in recent days following the end of Spain’s tough lockdown seven weeks ago, bringing its cumulative total to 342,813 – the highest number in Western Europe.

Spanish association, the Union of Professional Musicians, has released a statement denouncing the government’s decision and calling for protection for professionals who will be affected by it.

“The forced, massive and indiscriminate closure of nightlife ends all musical and artistic programming that took place in halls and venues under strict compliance with the regulations in force in terms of protection against Covid19,” the statement reads.

“The forced, massive and indiscriminate closure of nightlife ends all musical and artistic programming that took place in halls and venues”

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza announced similar shutdown measures for the country on 16 August via a press release on the government’s website.

“The activities of the dance are suspended, outdoors or indoors that take place in discos, dance halls and similar places intended for entertainment or taking place in beaches, establishments bathing establishments, equipped beaches, free beaches, common areas of the accommodation facilities or other places open to the public.” 

“We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months. Our priority must be that of opening schools in September, in full safety,” health minister Roberto Speranza said on Facebook.

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, and new cases in the past week were more than double those registered three weeks ago.

Spain’s first post-lockdown live music events took place from the 25 May, with outdoor events of up to 400 people and indoor concerts with a maximum capacity of 50 people permitted to resume in Spain.

Whereas Italy made its return to live on 15 June when concert halls, theatres and cinemas were allowed to reopen in Italy, with a maximum capacity of 200 people for indoor shows and 1,000 for performances held outdoors.

 


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