Belgium rolls back restrictions on live events
Belgium has transitioned to ‘code yellow’ on its coronavirus barometer, meaning the majority of restrictions have now been lifted.
As of today (7 March), the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will no longer be required to gain entrance to events, bars and gyms, given the “favourable evolution of the epidemic conditions”.
The maximum capacity for activities, concert halls and theatres has also been lifted, meaning that concerts and other shows can take place in full venues again.
The mandate to wear face masks in public spaces has also been ditched. “However, in places where no safe distance can be maintained, it is still recommended,” prime minister Alexander De Croo said during a press conference Friday (4 March).
The testing and quarantine rules have not changed, but Belgium’s health ministers are expected to discuss this topic on Wednesday (9 March).
The testing and quarantine rules have not changed, but Belgium’s health ministers are expected to discuss this topic
Prior to today, Belgium was operating at ‘code orange’ on the barometer, in which the CST was mandatory for all indoor activities with more than 50 participants and for all outdoor activities with more than 100 participants. Face masks were mandatory for indoor concerts.
The CST, initially introduced in July 2021, certifies that a person has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has tested negative for Covid-19 or has recovered from Covid-19.
Elsewhere in Europe, England, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have all announced plans to lift all remaining limits.
In Germany, most Covid curbs will be axed from Freedom Day – 20 March – although “low-threshold basic protective measures,” such as mask-wearing, will still apply.
Italy’s live music sector was still waiting for the green light to restart.
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Weekly round-up: Omicron live music restrictions
Welcome to IQ’s weekly round-up of the latest restrictions affecting major international touring markets.
Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key live music markets around the globe.
Australia has announced that it will reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders, from 21 February, for the first time in almost two years.
Australia has had some of the world’s strictest border controls throughout the pandemic – in March 2020, the government closed the borders and barred most foreigners from entering the country.
In orange, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required for both indoor and outdoor events (with the option of requiring an extra rapid antigen test at the entrance for nightclubs).
There would be no enforced closing time for businesses, but the Consultative Committee can decide to limit the number of people allowed to 60-90% of a venue’s maximum capacity, depending on whether the air quality requirements can be guaranteed.
Additionally, crowd management is mandatory for events, and organisers have the option to compartmentalise the public. Air quality requirements will be made stricter than in code yellow.
The Finnish government has recommended that capacity restrictions be lifted as of 14 February
The Ontario government has limited concert venues to 50% capacity until at least 14 March – despite other entertainment spaces such as cinemas, casinos and restaurants expecting to be given the go-ahead to host full houses from 21 February.
Artists including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd and The Offspring have been forced to postpone tour dates due to provincial restrictions.
Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) boss Erin Benjamin told The Canadian Press the policy was “really hard to understand”, and would likely deter other top international acts from visiting the country this year.
The CLMA is appealing for the government to extend relief for live music businesses via the Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).
The Finnish government has announced plans to roll back its Covid-19 restrictions from this month.
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.
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.
Germany will allow up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events
Germany will allow up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events, the 16 federal states agreed last Wednesday (2 February).
The decision, which also allows up to 4,000 participants in indoor spaces, aims to harmonise currently varying rules for stadium attendance at a state-by-state level. The new rules take effect as soon as the federal states update their regulation.
Masks must be worn, and proof of vaccination or recovery, as well as a booster shot or negative test status, depending on the state, will also be required.
Events that do not qualify as national major events with over 2,000 spectators still fall under state-specific rules.
Italy is about to enter a “new phase” of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to government ministers.
“In the coming weeks we will continue on this path of reopening,” says Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “Based on the scientific evidence, and continuing to follow the trend of the epidemiological curve, we will announce a calendar for overcoming the current restrictions”.
The next update on the country’s Covid restrictions is due by 10 February, when the outdoor mask mandate and the closure of nightclubs and dance venues are up for review again after both rules were recently extended.
The Italian green pass system itself is not expected to be scaled back anytime soon, with some experts including Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to the health minister, maintaining that it must stay in place over summer “at least”.
These rules can only remain in force however under the nationwide state of emergency, which creates the conditions for the government to pass new laws urgently by decree.
Italy’s state of emergency is currently set to expire on 31 March 2022. It is not yet known whether the government plans to extend it.
Sweden has become the latest European nation to announce it is lifting coronavirus restriction
Sweden has become the latest European nation to announce it is lifting coronavirus restrictions.
On 9 February, capacity limits and vaccine certificates for live events will be discontinued, while the government also intends to lift entry restrictions for the Nordic countries.
Live events in the country have been subject to a capacity limit of 500 people (or 500 per section if the organiser divides the room so that people from different sections do not come into contact with each other).
The Swedish public health agency will also follow Denmark’s lead in submitting a request that Covid-19 should no longer be classified as a socially dangerous disease.
“It’s time to open up Sweden,” said prime minister Magdalena Andersson. “The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase.”