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Tour cancellations mount over coronavirus surge

The global surge in Covid-19 cases is continuing to wreak havoc on the international live calendar, with a growing number of early 2022 tours cancelled or postponed.

Rod Stewart’s scheduled nine-date spring run in Australia and New Zealand, originally scheduled for 2020, became the highest-profile casualty to date following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

“Live Nation wishes to advise that due to the ongoing surge of Covid in Australia and the reimposition of entertainment venue capacity limits in several states, Sir Rod Stewart’s scheduled March/April tour of Australia and New Zealand has, regrettably, been cancelled,” says a statement.

Stewart says he looks forward to returning to Australia “as soon as the health situation permits”.

Earlier this month, three more Australian music festivals were cancelled or postponed in the space of 24 hours after New South Wales banned singing and dancing at unseated events.

NSW’s Grapevine Gathering fell by the wayside four days before it was due to take place, while touring metal and punk festival Full Tilt postponed its Brisbane edition until the end of April and cancelled its Adelaide concert set for 29 January.

Indoor dance floors at hospitality and entertainment venues in Victoria have also been temporarily closed in a bid to combat the coronavirus spike.

“It feels like a particularly volatile time to go ahead with such a large tour”

UK band Blossoms postponed European tour dates planned for January and February in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, while Wolf Alice opted to reschedule their January UK shows.

“As the Covid pandemic seems to be getting worse and with an overwhelming number of daily cases, it feels like a particularly volatile time to go ahead with such a large tour,” the latter said in a statement. “People’s safety and access to our concerts is of the utmost importance to us and we feel that is something we can’t ensure at these large indoor shows.”

Tightened measures were blamed for the postponement of Little Simz’ European tour, which was due to have visited Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France and Luxembourg before finishing in Austria on 1 February, just five days before it was due to start. Rising star Rina Sawayama also pulled her March European tour due to Covid concerns.

Last week, Dead & Company and promoter CID Presents cancelled their Playing in the Sand destination festival in Mexico less than 24 hours before it was due to take place. The annual event had been set for Riviera Cancun over two weekends from 7-10 and 13-16 January, but has been axed due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Frontman John Mayer had earlier pulled out of the festival after testing positive.

In the US, The Strokes have rescheduled their Barclays Center show – initially set for New Year’s Eve 2021 before Omicron intervened – for 6 April, and Billy Joel has switched his 14 January Madison Square Garden concert to 24 August. The 2022 Grammy Awards, scheduled for 31 January at Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena, have also been postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ live sector’s hopes for a swift reopening appear to have been dashed according to media reports, which suggest cultural venues are expected to remain closed “for the time being”.

 


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ILMC changes dates and venue for 2022 conference

This year’s edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) has been pushed back, in light of the rising number of Omicron cases and various restrictions across the world.

ILMC 34 will now take place from 26–29 April 2022, and the conference will return to its longstanding home, the Royal Garden Hotel in London, which will be reopening in early April following an extensive refurbishment.

This year’s Arthur Awards, which take place as part of ILMC’s ‘Great Indoors’ Gala Dinner, will move to Thursday 28 April. Hosted by CAA’s Emma Banks, the live music industry’s Oscar-equivalents remain at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel.

Attracting 1,200 of the world’s top live music professionals from over 40 countries, ILMC is unparalleled in its international scope and appeal, making it particularly important that proper precautions are taken during this pandemic.

ILMC head Greg Parmley says: “We’re clearly still living in unusual times, but by delaying ILMC slightly, we can ensure that the world’s top live music and entertainment professionals are able to unite in person, and that this year’s edition of the conference is as packed and productive as ever.”

This year’s supporters, sponsors and key partners are fully behind the move.

“By delaying ILMC slightly, we can ensure that the world’s top live music professionals are able to unite in person”

John Reid, president, Live Nation EMEA, says: “Live Nation are proud to sponsor ILMC and we look forward to seeing everyone on the conference’s new 2022 dates in late April.”

Detlef Kornett, executive board member, CMO and international business affairs at DEAG, added: “This move at this time is the right one, and will ensure this year’s ILMC is a fantastic edition. All at DEAG are looking forward to seeing everyone in-person in late April.”

Andrew Parsons, MD at Ticketmaster UK, commented: “As a long-standing partner of ILMC, we are really looking forward to the industry getting back together in person at the end of April.”

With ILMC’s date change, 2022 will see the Green Events & Innovations conference take place within the main conference programme on Friday 29 April, and the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) taking place on Tuesday 26 April. IPM is expanding its programming in 2022 to include a day-long tranche of sessions by the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S).

The International Live Music Conference has been the foremost meeting place for live music professionals worldwide for over 30 years. In addition to its main conference, ILMC also produces the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), Futures Forum, The Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) and the International Festival Forum (IFF).

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

 


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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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New coronavirus curbs sweep Europe

Coronavirus curbs are being reintroduced around Europe as governments bid to combat the spread of the omicron variant.

Portugal has announced it will close bars and nightclubs from 26 December and limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, while Germany is to close nightclubs from 28 December. Football matches will be played behind closed doors from that date, with private gatherings restricted to 10 people.

In Catalonia, concert halls and clubs have been closed, while Sweden is introducing new Covid measures from tomorrow (23 December), when vaccination certificates will be required for public gatherings and indoor events of more than 500 people. Participants must have a designated seat and 1m social distancing will be imposed. Groups must be limited to eight people.

The Swedish government has allocated SEK120 million (€11.7m) to the cultural sector, with the details to be finalised in the January budget.

It is absolutely crucial that in a difficult time we create security and support our cultural life

Elsewhere, Denmark has agreed to reopen a number of compensation schemes, including funds for smaller venues and artists.

“It is absolutely crucial that in a difficult time we create security and support our cultural and sports life,” said culture minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen.

“Among other things, we ensure assistance to cultural institutions that may cancel or postpone a production due to the restrictions. This will ensure better coverage for cancelled events.”

The reopened compensation schemes came into effect from 19 December and are welcomed by Dansk Live.

“Under the circumstances, it’s a good deal,” says Esben Marcher, the trade body’s head of secretariat. “We feel that they have really listened to us and we really appreciate that.”

The BBC is reporting that Northern Ireland nightclubs, which were the last in the UK to reopen on 31 October, will have to close once more from 27 December.

Yesterday, in Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions from 26 December, including the cancellation of large-scale events such as Hogmanay celebrations.

Indoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people standing and 200 seated, while outdoor events will be restricted to 500-capacity, with 1m physical distancing at all events.

Sturgeon also announced that support for businesses affected by Covid-19 will be increased by a further £275 million.

Wales also announced that spectators would be banned from all indoor, outdoor, professional and community sports events in the country from Boxing Day. There has not yet been any announcement about the closure of indoor or outdoor music venues, although economy minister Vaughan Gething said new restrictions will need to be introduced.

However, the contents of a new £1 billion financial package announced by the UK government disappointed live music groups. The additional measures included a £30 million top-up to the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) and grants of up to £6,000 per premise.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has not ruled out introducing new post-Christmas measures.

 


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UK grassroots sector facing fresh Covid crisis

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has warned the UK’s grassroots circuit is on the brink of collapse in the wake of fresh government restrictions.

The organisation reports that small venues have been hit by a catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head since last Wednesday’s announcement of Plan B measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

As a result, the MVT is calling on culture secretary Nadine Dorries to create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector, stressing that significant funding from the £1.7 billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

“This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season,” says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick.

“Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020

The MVT says losses over the last week were close to £2 million, with 86% of venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3%) and poor sales performance (23.6%).

MVT CEO Mark Davyd likens the predicament to the early days of the pandemic.

“It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it,” he says.

“We have been here before. This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the secretary of state to act quickly.

“The government previously used business rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”

MPs yesterday voted to back the government’s “Plan B” measures to tackle Omicron by introducing vaccine certificates or negative lateral flow tests to enter venues. The move was criticised by Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) chief Michael Kill.

“We are disappointed that MPs have voted into law covid passports for nightclubs,” he says. “The NTIA have consistently opposed their introduction due to the many logistical challenges they pose for night time economy businesses and what we have seen in Scotland and Wales where they have dampened trade by 30% and 26% respectively.

“It is very disappointing that, after flip flopping on the issue twice, the government have decided to press ahead with the plans despite no evidence of their impact on transmission of the virus.”

IQ has compiled the latest live music restrictions affecting key international touring markets in Europe here, and the rest of the world here.

 


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NAA chair Lucy Noble reacts to England’s ‘Plan B’

National Arenas Association (NAA) chair Lucy Noble has outlined the implications of the UK government’s “Plan B” measures for live music in a new interview with IQ.

In an effort to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, prime minister Boris Johnson announced last night that the wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues from next Wednesday (15 December), and vaccine passports will be required to gain entry.

Johnson said the new rules, which include negative LFTs following extended lobbying by the live sector, would “help to keep these events and venues open at full capacity, while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others”.

Noble, who is artistic director at London’s Royal Albert Hall, anticipates the tightened regulations to hit public demand at what is traditionally a busy time of year.

I’m mostly worried about the impact on ticket sales

“I think ticket sales and attendances will be impacted,” she says. “I think there will be more no-shows over the coming weeks. And it’s going to cost arenas to check everyone – it’s a huge undertaking, a huge cost and it also impacts on customer service. But I think we can get over all of that; I’m mostly worried about the impact on ticket sales.”

Noble says ticket sales had been “really strong” before declining slightly amid the emergence of the new Covid variant last month. She adds the significant volume of no-shows reported by other venues had not been replicated at the Hall, which took out a £20 million loan from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund last year.

“People see the Royal Albert Hall as a really special night out, so they don’t really want to forego that,” she surmises. “Events always see no shows, but ours are at the same level as they were before the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, the Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations, which were due to kick off on 29 March 2021 – exactly 150 years to the day of its opening – will now extend to 2023 due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.

“It was sad that we were shut for our actual 150th birthday,” reflects Noble. “But what was exciting was that we had commissioned [composer] David Arnold to write a piece to celebrate the Hall’s 150th birthday and that, fortuitously, landed on the day that we could open at full capacity – 19 July.

“That was a wonderful way to come out of the pandemic, but also to celebrate the hall’s anniversary and it was a great concert. We have lots of other exciting things planned for it – we plan to extend it through to the end of 2023 now – so we’re just going to have a long 150th birthday.”

I’m feeling positive about our recovery as an industry

Noble, who previously held a hybrid commercial/artistic role at the venue, was recently appointed as its first artistic director by CEO Craig Hassall. The Hall is also recruiting a new chief operating officer in 2022.

“We’re about to embark on our next business plan, and sustainability is a big pillar of that, along with diversity and innovation,” she explains. “We want to think of our talent pipeline, and our future artists and audiences as well.

“We’ll also be looking at the whole visitor experience for the Royal Albert Hall, so it’s not just about the performance; it’s about the Hall becoming a destination in the daytime as well and opening it up more.

“In the new year, we’ll announce a new associate artist scheme where we’re going to be working with younger artists. It will be the first time the Hall has ever done that and we’re quite excited about it.”

Artists scheduled to play the venue in 2022 include Eric Clapton, James Arthur, Brian Wilson, Gladys Knight, Joe Bonamassa and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Noble, who succeeded Motorpoint Arena Nottingham chief Martin Ingham as NAA chair in 2019, adds she has been impressed by the teamwork displayed by the events sector and singles out new trade body LIVE for special praise.

“We were able to influence government to a certain point,” she says. “When [the pandemic] first started, we had no voice at all. So that’s been key. I’ve enjoyed working with my industry colleagues in a way that we never have done before. If there’s one good thing to come out of this, it’s that there is a stronger, more unified voice across the industry – and that’s going to be a great thing moving forward for the whole industry.”

She concludes: “For the NAA, the pandemic has taken up so much of our time, but sustainability will be high on the agenda moving forward. We’ve all got a common goal to improve and work together to eventually work towards net zero

“At the moment, we’re right in the middle of this new variant and I don’t know what that will bring. But I’m feeling positive about our recovery as an industry.”

 


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Omicron in Europe: Latest restrictions on live music

As markets across Europe step up efforts to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, IQ is endeavouring to update the industry on the most recent restrictions affecting live music across the continent.

Below you’ll find the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets.

Please note that we will aim to keep this article as up-to-date as possible but all information is subject to change. 

To submit an update to this, please get in touch. This article was last updated on 5 January.

Austria
Austria will suspend a lockdown for the unvaccinated during year-end holidays, allowing them to meet in groups of up to 10 on three days around Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve.

On 12 December, the government ended the three-week lockdown for vaccinated people across most of the country.

The relaxation, which varies from region to region, largely allows for the reopening of theatres, museums and other cultural and entertainment venues. Masks will still be required in public spaces.

Austria is also set to become the first European country to make Covid vaccinations compulsory, with the law due to take effect from 1 February 2022.

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.

Denmark
Music venues, among other indoor cultural institutions, have been ordered to close from 19 December until 17 January 2022.

The Danish parliament has acted quickly to reopen compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists.

Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at live music association Dansk Live, welcomes the agreement: “Under the circumstances, it’s a good deal. The rapporteurs and the minister have been very outreach in the dialogue around the agreement, and we feel that they have really listened to us. We really appreciate that.”

England
Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England from 15 December. The wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be 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.

France
From 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.

Germany
The so-called 2G rule (meaning genesen for recovered in the past six months and geimpft for vaccinated) has been extended 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 up to 5,000. Masks are mandatory at all events.

Nightclubs will be required to close from 28 December. Football matches will be played behind closed doors from that date, with private gatherings restricted to 10 people.

Ireland
From Monday 20 December, hospitality and cultural venues including music venues, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres must close by 20:00.

All indoor events can operate at 1,000 or 50% capacity and must be fully seated. The number of spectators allowed to attend sporting events is now capped at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 5,000 people. The measures will stay in place until at least 30 January 2022.

Face masks will be obligatory unless people are eating or drinking. Nightclubs — which in October reopened for the first time in 19 months — have been closed since 7 December.

Italy
The government has banned concerts until 31 January and extended the country’s state of emergency to 31 March 2022. Nightclubs will also remain closed until the end of this month, and the consumption of food and drink at concert halls and other indoor locations is also banned until the end of March, amid the spread of the omicron variant. The use of FFP2 masks is also compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least 31 March.

Netherlands
For the second time in the space of a week, the Dutch government has imposed tighter restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

It was announced on 18 December that residents will be subject to a full lockdown from Sunday 19 December until at least Friday 14 January 2022.

During this time, music venues will be closed and events will not be permitted. Residents must stay at home as much as possible and adhere to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule when outside.

The Dutch government has put plans to implement a 2G system on hold until the new year, saying there is not currently enough time to draw up the legislation.

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.

Norway
As of 13 December, a maximum of 20 people is permitted at public indoor events without fixed allocated seats, and 50 people with fixed allocated seats.

At outdoor public events, a maximum of 100 people is permitted without fixed allocated places, and up to 200 in three cohorts with fixed allocated places.

For all indoor events, whether seated or standing, organisers must ensure that one-metre social distancing can be maintained between attendees. In addition, all attendees at indoor events must wear masks.

Event organisers are required to register guests for track and trace.

Poland
From 15 December, nightclubs will close and the maximum number of people allowed in other venues will be reduced from 50% capacity to 30%.

Venues can increase their operating capacity by only admitting vaccinated attendees, with staff required to check vaccination certificates. Face coverings are mandatory inside music venues.

Portugal
As of 1 December, Covid passports certifying full inoculation, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test result, will be mandatory to access events, restaurants, gyms and other leisure and hospitality businesses. Masks will be required for indoor spaces.

In addition, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to show a negative test to be granted entry to large events without marked seats, sports venues, bars and nightclubs.

From 26 December, bars and nightclubs will be closed, with outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people

For the week of 2–9 January (aka ‘containment week’), working from home will be obligatory, bars will close and school holidays extended to prevent a post-holiday season spread.

Romania
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 10:00 pm curfew.

Scotland
As of 6 December, evidence of a negative Covid test – from either a lateral flow test or PCR – is included in Scotland’s Covid-19 passport scheme. Previously, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination.

The Scottish government is implementing further restrictions on large-scale events and public spaces from 26 December.

From 27 December until the first week in January, when it is reviewed, the government is advising people to limit their social contacts, to adhere to social distancing advice and to stay at home where possible. Nightclubs will be closed for three weeks from that date.

Spain
As of 3 December, Covid certification demonstrating proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus, or a recent negative test is required to enter music venues, bars, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, care homes, or attend events in hotels and restaurants with indoor dance floors. For indoor standing events, capacity is set at 80% maximum.

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.

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.

Switzerland
As of 6 December, masks will have to be worn indoors wherever a certificate obligation applies. Events and venues, both indoor and outdoor, will be allowed to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated or recovered. The measures will be in effect until 24 January.

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.

 


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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.

 


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Touring business on alert after Omicron warning

The global touring business is on high alert following the detection of the new Covid variant Omicron.

While it will take two weeks for definitive data to emerge, an interview with Moderna chief Stephane Bancel in today’s FT – in which he predicted existing vaccines would be “much less effective” at tackling Omicron than earlier strains of the virus – has raised alarm bells across the industry.

“There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is the same level . . . we had with [the] Delta [variant],” said Bancel. “I think it’s going to be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data.”

Global stock markets have fallen following Bancel’s warning. Live Nation’s share price, which rocketed to an all-time high of $125.88 earlier this month on the back of the company’s glowing Q3 report, fell to $98.92 on Friday in the wake of Omicron’s discovery in South Africa. At the time of writing, it was down 1.26% for today to $106.77.

Elsewhere, shares in CTS Eventim have declined 1.5% (-6.28% over five days) to €57.64, Eventbrite was down 1.85% (-11.03%) to $14.84 and Madison Square Garden Entertainment dipped 4.8% (-1.51%) to $65.42.

It’s not looking good, but it’s still early to tell

Ozzy Osbourne rescheduled his long-delayed UK and European dates to 2023 earlier this week “due to the unprecedented and ever-changing situation”, but there have been no other reports of postponements.

Speaking to IQ, AEG Presents France head Arnaud Meersseman concedes the fresh developments have caused consternation among the live community and cast plans for at least the first quarter of 2022 into doubt.

“I think it’s not looking good, but it’s still early to tell,” he says. “We’re already seeing a lot of requests of acts in Q1 asking to move their shows – the problem is we have nowhere to move them.”

The UK government has re-introduced measures including wearing masks within shops and on public transport in England, coupled with more stringent border controls.

Michael Kill, boss of the UK’s Night-time Industries Association (NTIA) describes the new variant as “hugely concerning” but says he is “encouraged” by the government’s decision not to mitigate against hospitality and night time economy settings. All adults in England will be offered a booster jab by the end of January.

“Although somewhat tentative about the coming weeks, [we] need to be clear that the sector is still extremely fragile and will not survive further trade inhibiting restrictions or a potential lockdown,” says Kill.

“The current baseline mitigations within businesses across this industry have been extremely effective. Coupled with the vaccination programme we must remain confident that we are in a stronger position to deal with variants than many other countries across the world.”

Thousands of businesses, sole traders and artists are at the mercy of new strains

Down Under, Australian live music and entertainment industry bodies have responded to Omicron by reiterating calls for a government-backed insurance scheme.

“The emergence of this new variant on the heels of Delta and the rapid global response to limit its spread is a salutary reminder that this is not over yet,” says the alliance, which comprises AAM, AFA, ALMBC, AMIN, APRA AMCOS, ARIA, PPCA and Live Performance Australia.

“Thousands of businesses, sole traders and artists are at the mercy of new strains and the ongoing threat of more government lockdowns and reimposition of restrictions.”

Earlier this month, the Victorian government announced plans to launch a 12-month pilot scheme that will insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events.

“For this scheme to truly work, however, the industry urged the prime minister to develop a national scheme that reflects the industry’s national economic and employment footprint,” the statement continues. “We again call on the federal government to step up and coordinate a co-contribution scheme shared with the states and territories.

“The Australian live music and entertainment sector has long argued that a government-backed insurance scheme is crucial to allowing the sector to rebuild, maintain employment and rapidly restore its critical economic and cultural contribution to the nation.

“The industry calls on all levels of government to come together and establish a partnership approach with industry, delivering a government-backed insurance scheme and ongoing support.”

 


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