Denmark drops all Covid-19 restrictions for live music
Denmark’s live industry is on the road to recovery after the government yesterday (1 September) dropped all remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
The requirements that have now lapsed include Corona pass requirements for indoor cultural and sporting events with more than 500 standing spectators, and for outdoor cultural and sporting events with more than 2,000 seated spectators. Social distancing has also been scrapped.
Corona passes will be required to gain entry to nightclubs until 10 September, after which point the government will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical disease” or legally impose any Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is gratifying that restrictions are a thing of the past for the country’s concert organisers,” says Esben Marcher of Dansk Live – Denmark’s live music association.
“Now that corona is no longer considered a socially critical disease, we are facing a time of great reconstruction work. The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure and this is where our focus will be in the coming time.”
“The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure”
Minister for culture, Ane Halsboe Jørgensen, adds: “I am simply so happy that the cultural and sports life today can more or less say goodbye to the corona. For a long time, great demands have been made on culture to keep track of the pandemic.
“It has been necessary, but I am very pleased that we can now seriously begin a new chapter with a hopefully really good autumn for our cultural life.”
Denmark is the EU’s third-most vaccinated country, according to Our World in Data, with 71% of the population having received two shots.
The country was one of Europe’s first to impose a partial lockdown in March 2020 and one of the earliest to begin reopening, launching its Corona pass on 21 April this year.
Since that date, Dnanish restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, sports stadiums and hairdressing salons have been open for anyone who can prove that they are fully vaccinated, have a negative test result less than 72 hours old or contracted Covid within the past two to 12 weeks.
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Live Nation set to get Canada ‘back on touring map’
Canada is welcoming US artists to perform on the country’s stages for the first time in 18 months.
Vaccinated Americans and permanent residents are now able to cross the Canadian border for the first time since closing on 18 March 2020.
“This step opens possibilities to get Canada back on the touring map for sure. Some artists already have shows planned with more conversations picking up,” says Arthur Fogel, chairman of global touring for Live Nation.
Live Nation Canada’s first concert with major US acts will be on 2 September with Maroon 5 and Blackbear at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. This will make the artists the first major US acts to play in the country since reopening.
This week, Live Nation Canada announced plans to require all artists and fans to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test to attend shows at the company’s stable of owned and operated Canadian venues.
The mandate is set to come into effect from no later than 4 October at Live Nation Canada’s outdoor venues and festivals, including Budweiser Stage (Toronto), History (Toronto), The Danforth Music Hall (Toronto), Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver), Midway (Edmonton), and The Velvet Underground (Toronto).
“Some artists already have shows planned [in Canada] with more conversations picking up”
The live entertainment behemoth is also sharing best practices for artists to request these policies at third-party venues where Live Nation promotes shows but does not control protocols.
“Live Nation and the live music industry are about uniting people, and vaccines are one of the greatest tools for making sure that everyone can continue to enjoy live music together,” said Wayne Zronik, president business operations, Live Nation Canada.
“We’re confident this is the right move for everyone coming out to shows, including artists, fans, crew, and our staff.”
Live Nation has announced similar entry requirements for markets including the UK and the US. IQ also understands that the promoter will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements –many of which already utilise Covid-status certification for entrance to public spaces.
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Norway plans full reopening for September
Norway has announced plans to relax all restrictions before the end of September, by which point its adult population should have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Norwegian society will have to live with the fact that we have this virus, as we live with other infectious diseases,” minister of health, Bent Høie, told VG.
“We cannot eliminate the risk completely, as we cannot with other diseases. This means that some will also become seriously ill and die of Covid-19 after we have finished the vaccination and society has reopened.”
Prime minister Erna Solberg added that Norway, unlike other markets, would not be introducing a corona pass to aid reopening.
“In other countries, corona pass is used as a lure for people to be vaccinated. We do not need Norway, because most people are positive about vaccination,” says the prime minister, who pointed out that, by the end of this week, everyone over the age of 18 will have been offered one vaccine dose.
The prime minister added that Norway, unlike other markets, would not be introducing a corona pass to aid reopening
The news of reopening comes weeks after Norway postponed the final step in the reopening of its economy for a second time, due to the continued spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Until then, events without designated seating can take place with a maximum of 1,500 people (previously 1,000) indoors and 3,000 people (previously 2,000) outdoors. The audience must be divided into 500-capacity cohorts and the venue’s capacity cannot exceed 50%.
Events with designated seating can take place with a maximum of 3,000 (previously 2,500) indoors and 7,000 people (previously 5,000) outdoors. These events must also be divided into 500-capacity cohorts and the venue’s capacity cannot exceed 50%.
The reopening comes too late for many Norwegian festivals including Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest, Tons of Rock and Findings, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Festningen, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival, which have already been called off.
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NI music venues to reopen with restrictions
Music venues and theatres in Northern Ireland (NI) are permitted to reopen as of 6 pm BST tonight, under the latest relaxations of Stormont’s Covid-19 rules.
Live music will be permitted for rehearsals and performances, with no restriction on background or ambient volume levels.
However, audience members must purchase tickets in advance, have allocated seating, and adhere to a one-metre social distancing rule.
Venues were expected to reopen on 26 July but minsters want more time to consider the health implications. Outdoor events were permitted to return on 5 July without capacity restrictions.
Belfast singer-songwriter Sir Van Morrison, who legally challenged the Northern Irish government over its ‘blanket ban’ on live music in licensed venues, described the announcement as “a kick in the teeth”.
Morrison last week cancelled a number of concerts at Belfast’s Ulster Hall (cap. 1,000), due to take place between 29 July and 1 August, blaming the “draconian” delays from Stormont. He now argues that cancelled concerts that were planned for this week could’ve gone ahead.
“We are delighted that we can finally reopen to welcome artists and fans back…nothing beats the experience of a live event”
Others in the Northern Ireland live music industry have welcomed Stormont’s latest rollback of restrictions. Julia Corkey, chief executive at Ulster Hall, says: “We are delighted that we can finally reopen to welcome artists and fans back to the iconic Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall. As we all know, nothing beats the experience of a live event.”
Limelight Belfast wrote on Facebook: “Great news for live music venues and theatres.”
In preparation for the next stage of reopening, two major concert series in Belfast have set out entry conditions, which the organisers say are based on the findings of the range of ERP (Event Research Programme) pilot events.
The Belsonic concerts at Ormeau Park and CHSQ at Custom House Square, will both require ticket holders to show proof of having had either, both doses of the vaccine, proof of a negative Covid test 48 hours before arrival or proof of natural Covid antibodies.
Belsonic will take place between 4-25 September with Liam Gallagher, Dermot Kennedy and Gerry Cinnamon. CHSQ will take place between 10-29 August with artists including Tom Jones, Kodaline, Nile Rogers & Chic.
The rules for entrance to the music events are similar to those employed by the organisers of the Latitude festival in England, held at full capacity at the weekend as a government test event.
The British live music industry fully reopened without restrictions from 19 July. On the same day, Scotland reduced restrictions to the lowest level and plans to remove all restrictions on 9 August.
UK fury as government delays reopening date
The British government today (14 June) confirmed that live entertainment businesses will have to endure another month of closure, after deciding that the 21 June date on its roadmap to recovery should be delayed while it deals with the spread of the Delta (Indian) variant of Covid-19.
The devastating decision places numerous businesses in jeopardy, wiping an estimated 5,000 concerts, festivals and events from the calendar and costing the UK industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues.
“Following more than a year of confusion, lost revenue and cancellations, we are devastated the government has not set out any clear path for the restart of the live music industry,” reads a statement from trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment). “The government has been quick to talk up the success of the vaccine rollout, but other countries are now ahead of us in opening up full capacity events with simple Covid certification processes, including the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States.
“The government must also provide urgent emergency financial support to those impacted by today’s decision. There are hundreds of millions of pounds from the much-vaunted Culture Recovery Fund unallocated, despite being 15 months on from the start of the crisis. This money needs to get into the industry without any more delay.”
“It is devastating for the live music sector that we continue to be hit with arbitrary restrictions which make live events unviable,” says Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association. “The Events Research Programme pilot events were supposed to be the key to getting back to full-capacity live performance, and we understand that there were only 15 cases out of 58,000 attendees – although government is refusing to either publish the full report or to allow the sector to open up with the carefully planned precautions which we have been planning and putting in place for months.”
“It is devastating for the live music sector that we continue to be hit with arbitrary restrictions which make live events unviable”
“LIVE remains astounded that the findings have never published in full, given their centrality to the reopening of live events,” continues the statement. “This data must be published immediately so that the sector is able to see on what basis the government is making decisions about the industry’s future, and so that we can play a collaborative role in future proofing live events for years to come.”
“Failure to take immediate action to support the sector could tip many hundreds of grassroots music venues into the abyss,” comments Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd.
“The issue is not simply about a delay in reopening or lifting restrictions. It may on the surface look like a short and manageable pause. But there is no provision in place to bridge the resultant funding gap should this occur. Without some certainty on exactly when grassroots music venues can start trading at full capacity again the majority of the sector, already barely surviving on life support, could flat line.”
Davyd’s plea for financial support has been echoed throughout the nation’s live music community.
“The briefing we are seeing of a delay to our reopening later this month is devastating to the live music industry,” “The government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely. We have spent the last three months participating in, and paying for, full-capacity pilot events that gave us this evidence.
“To protect the future of our industry we are calling for full transparency from the government, for them to release the full report that proves how we can open safely and to work with us to give everyone the summer of music we all want.”
“The government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely”
Meanwhile, a flash survey conducted on behalf of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) reveals the hammer blow that the rumoured delay will have on nightlife business such as clubs and venues, with one in four businesses stating they will not survive longer than one month without further government support, while 50% of the industry say they would not survive longer than two months without aid.
The NTIA research notes that 54% of businesses have spent more than £15,000 in preparation for reopening on 21 June already, while 17.8% have spent more than £40,000. And 58% of businesses estimate they will lose more than £10,000 per week in revenue whilst restricted from trading due to easing of lockdown on 21 June, and a third of businesses estimate they will lose 30% of their workforce due to any delay.
“Night-time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for over 15 months,” says NTIA CEO Michael Kill. “Many have not survived, some are on a financial cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and others have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.
“Distressed industries cannot continue to be held in limbo, as businesses are left to fall, any decision to delay without clarity on when they can open will leave us no other option but to challenge the government, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening for an extreme length of time, through no fault of their own, and at their own cost.”
And Kill notes, “Any delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in workforce leaving the sector, and customers who are starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well operated, licensed and regulated.”
“The government must understand the human impact of this decision”
“The government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents, given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination roll-out, and the ability for the sector to deliver Covid-safe environments.”
Davyd says, “With no funding in place to mitigate any delay in reopening we will see mass evictions and foreclosures by landlords and creditors who ran out of patience a long time ago. The risk of business closures, widespread redundancies and the decimation of our sector is as real now as it was in April 2020.
“The government has the tools it needs to avert a disaster, whatever decisions it needs to make. It has allocated an additional £300 million to support the cultural sector; the prime minister or the culture secretary can swiftly announce that this money will be immediately released to tackle the challenges caused by any delay to reopening.”
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says while “AIF understands the rationale for delaying step four of the lockdown roadmap”, “any measures that prevent festivals from operating fully have to be counterbalanced with effective support to ensure businesses can survive.
“For those festival organisers that still have a chance of staging events after July 19, that support is government-backed insurance, which will give them the confidence to continue planning and commit the significant costs that entails. We also must not forget those festivals that have already been forced to cancel or will do so as a result of the delay – they will need a swift and comprehensive financial package to help them survive until the 2022 sales cycle.”
“Any measures that prevent festivals operating have to be counterbalanced with effective support”
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, is also renewing calls for a government-backed insurance fund. “This delay is also exactly why our industry has desperately needed a government-backed insurance scheme,” he says. “Confidence will be at rock bottom within the sector after today – and so festival and event organisers desperately need that safety net from the Government so they can plan with confidence and avoid financial ruin if the rules change again.
“The UK has one of the most vibrant live music scenes in the world, and the music industry is one of the sectors that should be driving our economic and cultural recovery from this pandemic. If the industry is not to be allowed to operate without restrictions for another month, then continued economic support and an insurance scheme is more vital than ever.”
“If there is to be a one-month delay,” concludes LIVE, “the government must spend that time ensuring there is a simple Covid certification scheme in place by the end of it to ensure that full- capacity events can go ahead, as they are now doing in other countries such the US, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Businesses remain unable to plan or proceed in any meaningful way, leaving them hamstrung as part of an industry in limbo.
“With hundreds of millions of pounds of the Culture Recovery Fund left unallocated within government, this needs to be pushed out to the music and live entertainment industries urgently to tide the sector over until a concrete way forward is agreed.”
21 June: Delay would lead to 5,000 UK cancellations
Research published today (10 June) shows that even a four-week delay to the deadline for lifting the final restrictions on live events in the UK would cost the live music sector over £500 million and leave the summer festival season at risk of total collapse.
More than 5,000 shows by artists including Olly Murs, Tom Odell, Rag’n’Bone Man, Beverley Knight, McFly, Alexandra Burke and Rudimental would either need to cancel or postpone if the 21 June deadline was pushed back, incurring immediate costs across the live music supply chain and further damaging an industry already hanging in the balance, according to industry body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The rumoured move, as IQ reported earlier this week, comes despite the fact that, by the government’s own evidence, large-scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place.
Through LIVE, a federation of 13 associations representing more than 3,000 live music companies, the live sector is calling for government to publish the data from the first round of Events Research Programme (ERP) pilots, so “they are able to follow their own science” and allow live businesses to reopen with Covid-safe precautions. The ERP findings which have been released by government to the media show that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, mass events are reportedly as safe as a trip to the supermarket.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations”
Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association, says: “The pilot shows at the Brits and Liverpool were touted as the key to getting back to full-capacity live performance, which is why it’s extremely frustrating that the government refuses to publish the full report and allow the sector to open up through the carefully planned precautions which are currently waiting in the wings.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations. Now is the time for them to protect the live events sector for generations to come.”
Any delay to the 21 June reopening date would have significant and immediate repercussions for grassroots music venues, with 248 venues facing an immediate threat of eviction if the government does not fully compensate their financial losses from delayed reopening, says Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.
“In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive,” says Davyd. “Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by government, the public, artist and communities to save our venues risks being undone.”
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place”
The UK’s much-anticipated summer festival season would also see significant casualties, with 65% of all Association of Independent Festivals members saying they will be forced to cancel if faced with a five-week delay – and 21% already gone.
Jim King, CEO of European festivals for AEG Presents, comments: “A delay into July without a clear road map to get back to step four [full lockdown lifting] puts an impossible strain on all festivals, including AEG’s All Points East festival, along with our suppliers across the industry.
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place, and this uncertainty will undoubtedly result, by default, in more cancellations. We are desperate for the UK festival season to begin again, but an undated reopening makes long term planning and investment unfeasible.”
Austria prepares for July reopening
Promoters and festival organisers in Austria are preparing to relaunch activities after the government made a surprise announcement that full capacity events will be allowed to resume in July.
On Friday, 28 May, the Austrian government brought forward its date for mass gatherings to restart, when it told its citizens that from 1 July onwards, all events will be possible at full capacity, including standing events, both indoor and outdoor.
Social distancing and masks will not be required, but event attendees will still need to meet one of three rules to gain admission: they must be vaccinated; they must be able to provide a negative Covid test; or they must be able to prove that they have recovered from a Covid infection.
The bold move is testament to Austria’s successful Covid vaccination drive, which has so far seen more that five million vaccines administered (to a population of nine million people), which in turn has helped the number of Covid infections drop significantly in recent weeks.
The news has been welcomed by live music professionals around the country, with many now resurrecting summer plans.
“FM4 Frequency festival can take place now,” says Barracuda Music promoter Thomas Zsifkovits, who has the sold-out event scheduled for 19-21 August, with a line up that includes a hefty international presence such as Marshmello, Die Antwoord, Mabel, Sum 41, Martin Garrix, Chase & Status and many more.
“The government here has said that everybody can be vaccinated by the end of July”
Zsifkovits tells IQ that the surprise government decision has seen Barracuda staff back in the office together for the first time in months, where the excitement is perceptible as they discuss what might and might not be possible for the remainder of 2021.
And highlighting just what a game-changer the government’s announcement means for the Austrian live music community, he reveals, “Szene Open Air just called me to say that will organise their event, which they cancelled a month ago.”
The exciting news also means that shows in the autumn are now a real possibility for fans in Austria. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but touring will depend on other countries following Austria’s example,” continues Zsifkovits.
“The government here has said that everybody can be vaccinated by the end of July, bet we know that’s not the same in other countries. In fact, I am having conversations with agents about their acts, as we know that some of those will not be able to comply with the Austrian rules.”
However, with around 50,000 fans per day waiting to flood in through the Frequency gates, Zsifkovits is looking forward to a massive relaunch of business, while he and his peers throughout Austria also look toward the autumn schedule of shows, as well as confirming dates for 2022.
Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery
Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.
The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.
Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.
However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.
Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.
“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”
“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”
Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.
“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”
“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.
“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.
“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.
“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”
Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”
As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.
The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.
Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.
Swiss live industry welcomes partial reopening
Switzerland’s cultural industry has welcomed the federal government’s decision to allow audiences at concerts again amid a wider rollback of restrictions.
As of Monday (19 April), 50-capacity indoor shows and 100-capacity outdoor shows will be permitted but attendance cannot exceed one-third of the capacity of the venue. Food and drink will not be served.
Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) hailed the move as “an important first step” but continues to call for a perspective on larger events.
Any public events scheduled between 1 June 2021 and 30 April 2022 which have ‘cross-cantonal importance’ will be covered by the Swiss government’s event cancellation scheme, thanks to a recent update in legislation.
Under the new scheme, organisers of major events who have a cantonal permit can claim back costs that aren’t covered by public support measures, insurance or cancellation agreements, if their event is cancelled or postponed due to government-enforced Coronavirus restrictions.
However, the prerequisites of the scheme – such as the need for a cantonal permit – seems to have left organisers and live associations more uncertain than ever about the viability of this year’s festival season.
The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association hailed the move as ‘an important first step’
SMPA’s managing director, Stefan Breitenmoser, doubts whether organisers of major events will be able to secure cantonal permits far enough in advance of their events: “In reality, permits are only issued relatively shortly before the event during normal operations.”
Another concern is that the scheme does not cover events that can only be carried out to a limited extent.
Major Swiss festivals that have already pulled the plug on this year include Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival, Rock the Ring, OpenAir St.Gallen, Gurtenfestival, Zermatt Unplugged, Caribana Festival and Thunerseespiele.
The rollback of restrictions comes despite the fact that the landlocked country’s epidemic “remains fragile and has even worsened in recent weeks”.
However, the government stressed in a statement, it “estimates that the risks associated with this easing are acceptable”.
Switzerland, a country of 8.6 million people, has to date counted more than 625,000 coronavirus cases and 9,790 deaths.
No answers for festivals in Denmark’s reopening plan
Festival organisers in Denmark are still in the dark about whether their events will be able to take place this summer after the government published a reopening plan which fails to provide concrete answers about large events.
While the phased reopening plan marks 6 May as the day that live music should be able to return to indoor venues, there’s no such detail for festival organisers.
In the plan, the government has simply said it will set up a ‘fast-working expert group’ which will co-operate with the relevant authorities to deliver suggestions on how major gatherings and events can be held, by mid-April.
The organisers of major festivals in Denmark, Roskilde Festival and Smukfest, told DR that, while the government has not explicitly given festivals a green light in the reopening plan, they will assume their events can still go ahead until told otherwise.
“Although it does not say anything about the possibility of large events, we can not see it as anything other than an expression that there is still a belief that it is possible to hold a festival this summer,” says Roskilde Festival’s CEO, Signe Lopdrup. “If not, I assume we would have been told it would not be possible. So we will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us.”
Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, also told DR: “We are disappointed that we are not mentioned in the reopening agreement, but that means that we can not do anything other than what we have been asked. And that is to continue our planning work.”
“We will continue the planning with renewed intensity – otherwise, time simply runs away from us”
Eskildsen has called for festivals to be involved in the so-called ‘fast-working expert group’ – which he says should’ve happened months ago.
Conversely, the Danish government has already assembled a ‘restart team’, including Roskilde Group as well as Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, which recently submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors. The catalogue was submitted to the ministry of culture for approval.
The government also announced a DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net, intended to allow organisers to plan for the summer, but Eskildsen says festivals need to know ‘the exact conditions for how we can continue our planning responsibly’.
According to the Smukfest rep, festivals are expecting a final decision on this year’s festival season around two weeks from now but Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher believes that it will come too late for many organisers.
“The first festivals are at the end of May, and it takes five to seven weeks to build a festival on a full scale. And hopefully one should not end up getting ready for a festival, which will then be cancelled. It’s all, all too late, unfortunately. We just have to say that,” says Marcher.
“I still believe that there can easily be festivals. It can just end up in a situation where the festivals are so challenged in planning time and staffing of volunteers that it becomes very difficult to make it a success.”