At least 13 killed in Spain nightclub fire
At least 13 people have died following a fire that spread to three nightclubs in Murcia, south-east Spain, in the early hours of yesterday (1 October).
The blaze, which is believed to be the country’s deadliest nightclub fire since 43 people were killed in Zaragoza in 1990, reportedly broke out in the La Fonda Milagros club in the Atalayas area at around 6am, before engulfing the neighbouring Teatre and Golden.
According to the BBC, it is not yet clear what caused the fire, but it is understood to have broken out on the first floor of La Fonda.
The Guardian reports that Murcia city council says that it appears that the Teatre and La Fonda Milagros nightclubs had been operating without a licence since January last year after planning concerns were raised about the decision to split the original Teatre club into two venues.
“We’re talking about an unprecedented tragedy and we will determine responsibility for what happened whatever the cost”
Murcia’s councillor for urban planning Antonio Navarro, said the clubs had been ordered to close in October 2022, and said the council would be taking legal action against the company that owns them.
“We will find out who bears responsibility for what has happened,” Navarro told today’s press conference. “We will be taking action against the Teatre company for failing to comply with the orders to cease [their activities]. We’re talking about an unprecedented tragedy and we will determine responsibility for what happened whatever the cost.”
The victims included Spanish, Colombian, Nicaraguan and Ecuadorian nationals. In addition, 24 people were injured, with four treated in hospital for smoke inhalation, while five others who were unaccounted for and feared dead having now been located.
“La Fonda wishes to express its condolences to the relatives of the fatal victims of the fire… and to convey all our support to the people injured in this tragic incident,” says a social media post from the venue. “We are collaborating with the authorities, in whom we fully trust for the clarification of the facts… until the investigation that determines the real cause of what happened is completed.”
Ibiza gears up for April reopening
Ibiza nightclubs will open in April this year – two weeks earlier than normal – as the Spanish island bids to rebound from the pandemic.
José Luis Benítez, manager of venues organisation Ocio de Ibiza, said the White Isle’s major nightspots were actively preparing for the 2022 season. He added it would already be possible to open at 65% capacity for those with Covid passes, with fewer restrictions possible in a few months’ time.
“The idea is that the opening will be at the end of April, two weeks ahead of what is normally done,” Benítez told Diario de Ibiza. “Then, “to hang on until October… November if all goes well.
“Even so, we will proceed with caution and in collaboration with the authorities.”
“This summer, the discotheques will be able to open”
Speaking at the annual international tourism fair Fitur in Madrid, Balearic tourism chief Iago Negueruela was similarly confident.
“This summer, the discotheques will be able to open,” he said. “The covid passport serves as a security tool “.
While tourism revenue staged a partial recovery in 2021 compared to 2020, there will be an added focus on consolidating the domestic market, which spent €405 million last season – €40m more than in 2019.
Super clubs have begun confirming their 2022 opening parties, among them Defected (29 April), Es Paradis (1 May) and Amnesia (21 May). The iconic Space Ibiza, which closed in 2016, is also due to make a comeback in 2022 in a new format as a club night, bar and restaurant in the Posta del Sol Building in San Antonio.
Benítez said he had no concerns over demand, insisting the sector had been flooded with letters asking “whether they are opening this year and when”.
“I am quite optimistic,” added former minister Abel Matutes. “The crucial point is that individuals continue to be vaccinated and customers are keen to travel.”
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.
Omicron update: More countries tighten measures
Italy has banned unvaccinated people from attending concerts as countries across Europe step up their efforts to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.
From this week, access to music venues – as well as theatres, cinemas, sporting events, restaurants and bars – in the country will be restricted to those with a so-called Covid Super Green Pass.
The UK government reported that, despite early indications suggesting Omicron was “more transmissible” than the Delta variant, it was not looking at introducing its winter contingency plan. Live events are currently still proceeding at full capacity in the territory.
However, in France, nightclubs will be closed for four weeks from this weekend, prompting an angry response from businesses.
Once again, there’s no clampdown for any other sector
“Once again, there’s no clampdown for any other sector,” Thierry Fontaine of the UMIH Nuit industry association tells France 24. “They cancel New Year’s Eve for us… but they’ll be dancing in all the restaurants.”
From December 15, nightclubs will also close in Poland, where the maximum number of people allowed in other venues will be reduced from 50% capacity to 30%. A venue can only admit fully vaccinated people if it wishes to increase numbers, with staff required to check vaccination certificates.
Elsewhere, in Belgium, indoor events over 4,000-capacity will be banned from this Saturday, whereas concerts and events in Romania will be staged at 50% capacity to a maximum of 1,000 people (all of whom must be vaccinated) with a 10pm curfew.
The moves follow Germany extending its so-called 2G rule to cover the whole country – meaning only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid can attend live music venues and other cultural events.
Outdoor events are limited to 50% capacity with a maximum of 15,000 attendees, while indoor gatherings are limited to 50% cap and crowds of 5,000. Masks are mandatory at all events.
The Netherlands has put plans to implement a 2G system on hold until the new year. Elsewhere, in Denmark, Covid passes are now required for indoor gatherings of at least 100 people (previously 200) and outdoor gatherings of 1,000 upwards (previously 2,000).
In addition, Austria entered a new national lockdown last month, and evidence of a negative Covid test – from either a lateral flow test or PCR – has been added to Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme. Previously, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination.
Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports that about €25 million is to be provided to the Irish live performance sector following the government’s decision to limit indoor events to 50% capacity.
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.
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.
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.”
#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.
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.
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.
Vincenzo Sibilia and Asher Grant of #SaveNightclubs campaign group