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Berlin pilot project trials pre-entry PCR testing

Participants in a pilot event series held in Berlin over the weekend were asked to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test, as opposed to the more common lateral-flow/rapid antigen tests becoming an increasingly common entry requirement as festivals and shows restart.

Clubculture Reboot, organised by Clubcommission, an association of Berlin nightclubs, as part of the city-backed Perspektive Kultur: Berliner Pilotprojekt Testing initiative, is the latest pilot scheme intended to demonstrate to German authorities that live events can be held safely “even under pandemic conditions”. Six clubs, the Kitkat-Club, SO36, Festsaal Kreuzberg, Crack Bellmer, Salon zur Wilden Renate and Metropol, and around 2,000 people participated in the pilotprojekt, which began on Friday 6 August.

All clubgoers, regardless of their vaccination status, had to go undergo a PCR test – the ‘swab test’ which is more accurate than a rapid test, but which takes at least 24 hours to return its results – at one of three designated test centres ahead of the weekend events. There were seven positive results out of the 2,200 tests administered, according to the city’s website.

“I’m totally blown away by how people are standing here with umbrellas in the Berlin rain and just want to get in here. It’s like being at a festival”

In addition to the weekend-long series of club nights, the Clubcommission, in partnership with the city of Berlin and the German Red Cross, is organising three ‘Long Nights of Vaccination’ (Lange Nächte des Impfens) at the vaccination centre in Arena Berlin (7,500-cap.) in Treptow. Taking place on 9, 11 and 13 August, the ‘long nights’ run from 8pm to 1am and combine live DJs with free BioNTech/Pfizer vaccinations for younger people.

Speaking to AFP, Sebastian Schwarz from Tiefschwarz, one of the seven acts who played on Monday 9 August, said: “It’s overwhelming, the empathy and the niceness with which people are working together here. I’m totally blown away by how people are standing here with umbrellas in the Berlin rain and just want to get in here. It’s like being at a festival.” According to Berlin’s ministry of health, 420 people were vaccinated on Monday alone.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said earlier this week that the country’s vaccination rate has fallen behind its neighbours and urged state and local governments to promote vaccines and make them easy to obtain.

 


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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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Clubs come together for The Beat Goes Live

A 48-hour livestreaming event will unite many of the world’s leading electronic music venues in support of the industry later this month.

The Beat Goes Live, which takes place from 19 to 21 March, will raise money for Music Heroes, an initiative supporting venues, promoters, artists, music related charities and organisations. It will stream live on Paarti starting from 9pm GMT.

Participating venues include Ambassada Gavioli (Izola, Slovenia), Cava Paradiso (Mykonos, Greece), Club der Visionaere (Berlin, Germany), Egg (London, UK), D-Edge (Sao Paolo, Brazil), H0L0 (New York, USA), Noa Beach Club (Zrce, Croatia), Nordstern (Basel, Switzerland), Phonotheque (Montevideo, Uruguay), Super Dommune (Tokyo, Japan), Tenax (Firenze, Italy) and Versuz (Hasselt, Belgium).

A final secret venue, as well as the line-up, will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are launching a new kind of platform kicking off with a historic event that brings together some of the biggest names in music”

Fans can support the cause by buying tickets and making donations in both their local currency and cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.

Raluca Cherciu, CEO, Paarti says: “We are launching a new kind of platform kicking off with a historic event that brings together some of the biggest names in music, in support of music heroes.”

“What always drives us is the passion and love for music. For Noa, the beat never stops, it keeps playing just like our hearts that live for this industry,” says the club in a statement.

“That is why Noa Beach Club decided to join this initiative because it arose from a sincere desire to continue living, having fun and socialising from all over the world. Luckily, technology today allows us to do that, and this project is going to take it to another level.”

 


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#savenightclubs urges UK PM to prevent “tsunami” of losses

New nationwide coalition #savenightclubs has published an open letter to UK prime minister Boris Johnson urging him to act now or “permanently lose the country’s nightclub industry and the enormous economic contribution it makes to the UK”.

The letter emphasises that nightclubs in the UK have been shuttered for eight months now and 70% of people working in nightclubs are self employed and therefore were not eligible for the furlough scheme.

The call for support follows the coalition’s recent survey of 101 nightclub owners and managers which revealed that 58% of nightclubs across the nation will go out of business within a month, four in five (81%) nightclubs will be shut by Christmas, and 10% expect their business to survive longer than four months.

Now, the initiative is calling on the government to provide a financial survival package beyond the Culture Recovery Fund, introduce protection from eviction for nightclubs during and immediately after the crisis, and extend business rate relief to April 2022.

The letter, which you can read in full below, has been backed by the Night Time Industries Association and myriad clubs across the UK including Infernos in Clapham, The Box in Soho, Cirque Manchester and Bamboo Glasgow.

 


Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you as a group of over one hundred nightclub owners, managers and workers whose businesses have now been closed for exactly eight months this Friday. We urge the government to act now or permanently lose the country’s nightclub industry and the enormous economic contribution it makes to the UK.

We are writing this letter on behalf of the nightclub industry, a sector who employs circa 45,000 people – 72% of whom are under 25 years old. We are a proud part of British culture and crucial to the UK economy, generating £3bn a year in income. The nightclub industry proudly employs a huge spectrum of job roles including bartenders, DJs, performers, security, cleaners and more. Behind these stats are thousands of individual stories of hardship from people who feel like they have been forgotten.

“We urge the gov to prevent a devastating tsunami of job losses and a wipeout of future economic contributions”

Over the last 8 months, the industry has faced Lockdown 1, household and tiered restrictions and an impossible curfew of 10 pm. Now, in the midst of a second national lockdown and the announcement of the furlough scheme extension until March 2021, this is likely to result in our venues closing for an entire year. Unlike hospitality and gyms who were able to trade over the summer months, we have not been able to open at all resulting in zero revenue since March.

Venues are facing mounting rent bills, ongoing running costs and the prospect of business rates in April 2021. We urge the government to prevent a devastating tsunami of job losses, a wipeout of future economic contributions and further ruin to towns and cities across the UK which are already on their knees.

So far:

Despite the government’s on-going support to sectors such as hospitality and gyms – nightclubs are the forgotten industry. Over 70% of people working in nightclubs are self employed and therefore were not eligible for the furlough scheme. No alternative financial support package has been proposed for the nightclub industry.

Stats:

Last month, #SaveNightclubs carried out a survey revealing that four in five nightclubs (81%) will be shut by Christmas unless the government urgently intervenes.

The #SaveNightclubs campaign calls on the government to:

Provide a financial survival package beyond the Recovery Fund, helping the sector weather Covid’s impact and assist in future reopening.
Introduce protection from eviction for nightclubs during and immediately after the crisis.
Extend business rate relief to April 2022, enabling nightclubs to get back on their feet in 2021.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter.

Respectfully yours,
Vincenzo Sibilia and Asher Grant of #SaveNightclubs campaign group


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