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Hamburg venues allowed to ban unvaccinated fans

Promoters and venues in Hamburg can soon ban unvaccinated people from attending events, in order to do away with social distancing and increase capacity limits.

Germany on Monday (23 August) moved to a uniform Covid health pass system which allows entry to many public spaces only to people who’ve been vaccinated (geimpft), have recovered from Covid (gensesen) or have been tested against Covid (getestet) – otherwise known as the 3G model.

But on Tuesday (24 August), the Hamburg senate announced that, from Saturday 28 August, it will introduce a ‘2G-option model’ for event organisers and business owners in the federal state.

This means they can allow entry exclusively to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid within the last six months. The employees of the cultural institutions also have to be vaccinated at 2G events.

Organisers who implement the 2G model will be allowed to increase the number of attendees to 1,300 for indoor events and 2,000 for outdoor.

In addition, organisers and attendees of 2G events will not need to adhere to certain Covid regulations such as social distancing. However, masks will remain compulsory in all indoor settings.

Organisers who implement the 2G model will be allowed to increase the number of attendees to 1,300 indoorand 2,000 outdoor

The senate says operators will face fines of up to €20,000 if they do not check for proof of vaccination or recovery (or a negative test if it’s a 3G event), in conjunction with photo ID.

Organisers can also opt for the 3G model but if they do, they will have to follow previous Covid restrictions, such as capacity restrictions.

The 2G or 3G option is aimed at music venues, theatres, cinemas, trade fair operators, restaurants, hotels, swimming pools and fitness studios, among other businesses.

Organisers of sporting events with visitors, public festivals or educational courses should also be able to exclude unvaccinated people if they want to, says the Hamburg senate.

The only exceptions to the 2G rule will apply to children and young people. All under-18s will be allowed to attend 2G events without full vaccination for a grace period.

“Restrictions must be proportionate and may only apply for as long as they are necessary to combat the pandemic”

For 12 to 18-year-olds, who have been urged to get vaccinated, the transitional period will expire in six weeks. For children under 12, for whom no vaccine has been approved, it will continue to apply.

A spokesperson for the Hamburg senate says there are no exceptions for people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons because they “are generally at high risk of infection and should avoid crowds”.

Hamburg’s first mayor, Peter Tschentscher, says: “Restrictions must be proportionate and may only apply for as long as they are necessary to combat the pandemic.”

However, the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) argues that the 2G model alone is not a “viable solution” as the industry cannot afford to “do without almost half of its clientele”.

The association has proposed a variation of the model – ‘2G+PCR’ – which would also allow entry to those who show a negative PCR test – a more reliable, but expensive and time-consuming, option than rapid testing.

BDKV is now urging the government to implement its suggested model in order to do away with capacity restrictions nationwide.

 


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Live Nation allows artists to choose entry restrictions

Live Nation is allowing artists performing at its US venues to require all attendees and staff to be fully vaccinated or to show a negative test result to gain entry, where permitted by law.

This is according to a document obtained by Variety, in which the global entertainment giant outlined standard practices for its US events in response to the varying Covid protocols in each state.

The company says the model has already been successfully implemented at many major shows in the US, including Lollapalooza which took place at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, between 29 July–1 August.

Live Nation will also require that, as of 4 October, all employees in the US be vaccinated to enter the company’s events, venues or offices – with limited exceptions as may be required by law.

“Our business and our 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,” reads the note, signed by CEO Michael Rapino.

“Vaccines are one of the greatest tools for making sure that everyone can continue to enjoy live music together”

Rapino initially mentioned the vaccination mandates during the company’s Q2 earnings call, explaining that it would help protect employees – whichever state they’re in.

“I think that the biggest challenge we’ve had is just scrambling on a day-to-day basis with part-time employees back, and abiding by different local Covid laws; mask, no mask, now test, no test. I think that’s been our only real challenge from HR and communication,” he said.

“So, hats off to my frontline. They’re doing an incredible job trying to adjust, and we’re going to move to more central protocols now on mandating the vaccine and making sure they’re all safe, too.”

Live Nation’s memorandum comes shortly after New York became the first major city to require proof of being vaccinated for anyone who wants to attend an indoor live show – reinforcing similar requirements already set by venues such as Madison Square Garden.

 


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New York mega-concerts lead US return to live music

Plans are underway for a summer concert for 60,000 people in New York’s Central Park, as the United States increasingly takes the global lead on the return to normality for the live music industry.

The open-air event, announced yesterday (7 June) by New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, will bring together eight “iconic” musicians for a three-hour show which will also be broadcast on television across the globe, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the show is provisionally set for 21 August, forming part of a ‘Homecoming Week’ of events in New York city. The concert is being coordinated by promoter Clive Davis, 89, with Live Nation also involved in the production.

Provisionally titled ‘The Official NYC Homecoming Concert in Central Park’, the majority of tickets for the concert will be free, though Davis tells the Times there will also be limited VIP tickets available.

De Blasio told a press conference the New York-heavy line-up will bring together some of the world’s biggest stars. “I turned to Clive, I said, ‘I need the biggest, most extraordinary all-star line-up you can put together, heavy on New York artists.’ He said, ‘I’m on it,’” the New York Post reports. “Get ready for an unforgettable week, a once-in-a-lifetime concert and a moment that really says ‘New York City’s back’.”

According to Reuters, the concert is expected to have both vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, with about 70% of tickets going to fans vaccinated against Covid-19.

“We are excited to finally welcome a packed house of roaring, fully vaccinated fans”

Elsewhere in New York, iconic arena Madison Square Garden (MSG) announced today (8 June) that Foo Fighters will this month play the venue’s first concert since March 2020, with a full-capacity show set to the fill the 20,000-capacity Garden on 21 June.

According to MSG Entertainment CEO James Dolan, the landmark show is open only to fans who have been ‘fully vaccinated’ (ie two doses or the Pfizer and Moderna, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson, jabs) against Covid-19.

“The Garden is ready to rock,” says Dolan. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for 15 months and are excited to finally welcome a packed house of roaring, fully vaccinated Foo Fighters fans to Madison Square Garden.”

The New York concerts are the latest sign that parts of the US are gearing up for full-capacity shows from summer onwards, with festival favourites such as Chicago’s Lollapalooza (29 July–1 August), Tennessee’s Bonnaroo (2–5 September) and Governors Ball (24–26 September) in New York all betting on being allowed to go ahead in 2021, the latter pair having already postponed to later in the year.

And it’s not only festivals banking on a return to business as usual in 2021: Tour announcements have been coming thick and fast in recent days, with new or rescheduled US treks by the likes of Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses, King Crimson, Eagles, Kesha, Deadmaus and Kings of Leon kicking off in the months ahead.

Kesha, whose Kesha Live tour, featuring Betty Who, begins at the First Interstate Arena in Billings, Montana, on 13 August, says in a statement: “It’s time to celebrate the fact that we got through the past 14 months – holy shit.” She adds: “Thank god. Let’s party.”

Legal experts liken proof of vaccination to a ’no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy

As in Central Park and MSG, permission to party will, in many places, be granted only to fans who can prove they are Covid-19 negative. Lollapalooza, for example, will require either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test for entry – as did Florida’s popular SOBEWFF (South Beach Wine and Food Festival) until the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, legally prohibited Floridian businesses from doing so by signing an executive order banning so-called vaccine passports.

“Under no circumstances will the state be asking you to show proof of vaccination,” said DeSantis last month, “and I don’t think private companies should be doing that either. If you want to go to an event, go to an event. If you don’t, don’t. But to be requiring people to provide all this proof, that’s not how you get society back to normal.”

While DeSantis is known for his outspokenness, he isn’t alone in opposing vaccinated-only concerts; the vaccine ‘passport’ issue has become politicised in the US, with Republican governors in states including Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Iowa vocally opposed to restricting access to certain spaces to people who have had the vaccine, posing a logistical headache for tour organisers.

Kim Reynolds, governor of Iowa, has said a system of Covid-status certification would create a “two-tiered society” divided between the have (had the vaccine)s and have-nots. “I strongly oppose vaccine passports, and I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them, which I intend to do either through legislation or executive action,” she said.

The US government, however, has said it will leave the decision to private businesses, which – outside of states where an anti-‘passport’ law is in place – are free to require their customers show proof of their Covid-19 vaccine. According to USA Today, “legal experts have likened the requirement to a ’no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy”.

While it remains to be seen to what extent vaccine certificates are embraced by other US promoters, venues and sports teams, MSG’s Dolan is convinced of their merit both in keeping patrons safe and encouraging others to get their jab. Championing a recent double sell-out for two New York Knicks basketball games at the Garden, he said: “I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Exit festival to offer vaccines to int’l visitors

Exit Festival plans to offer doses of the coronavirus vaccine to international guests who attend the event this summer.

The Serbian festival, which will be held in Novi Sad from 8–11 July, is set to go ahead as normal as the country charges towards a full reopening on 21 June, thanks to Serbia’s “successful mass vaccination programme and significantly decreased number of new Covid cases”.

Now, “as a way to aid countries that currently have vaccine shortages,” Exit has partnered with the ministry of health to organise “a few thousand” coronavirus vaccine doses for international artists, ticketholders and accredited press who attend the festival.

The festival told IQ that international guests will be able to apply to have their vaccine in Serbia. More information regarding the vaccination process for international visitors will be announced soon.

Attendees who can prove they are immune against Covid-19 or can produce a negative PCR or antigen test will also be able to attend the 20th-anniversary edition of Exit – which is slated to feature international acts including Robin Schultz, David Guetta and DJ Snake.

“Serbia has been one of the global leaders in mass vaccination for months,” says Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić. “Thanks to that, we have an ever-improving epidemiological situation and the plan is to open the country for gatherings, concerts and festivals on 21 June.

“Exit festival happening this July will be one of the important symbols of Serbia’s victory over the pandemic”

“In this way, we show not only the care for the event industry that contributes so much to our tourism and economy, but we also fight for the mental health of young people. Also, we confirm the strategic commitment of the government of Serbia towards the development of creative industries. Exit festival, which our country is globally proud of, happening this July will be one of the important symbols of Serbia’s victory over the pandemic”.

The country’s prospective 21 June reopening, which coincides with World Music Day, depends on 50% of adults getting vaccinated by that date.

Currently, around 45% of adults in Serbia have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with a further 5% expected in the next few weeks.

The government recently launched an immunisation campaign that would “reward” citizens for their “responsibility” to get inoculated against the virus.

Citizens over the age of 16 who have either already received one or two doses, or will be vaccinated with at least one dose by 31 May will receive a one-time payment of 3,000 dinars (€25). The amount equates to around 5% of the country’s average monthly salary.

The government initiative – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – is aiming to revive Serbia’s immunisation campaign amid waning public interest and growing scepticism.

Read about the international live music industry is divided as to how, if at all, fans’ vaccination status should be taken into account as live activity resumes here.

 


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Industry divided over vaccinated-only concerts

Nearly six months after Maggie Keenan, a 90-year-old Briton, became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial, opinion remains divided among international live music professionals about how, if at all, fans’ vaccination status should be taken into account as live activity resumes.

Nowhere is this more the case than in the United States, where the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) say that those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (i.e. had both jabs of one of the three vaccines, BioNTech/Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna, approved for use in the US) may once again attend indoor events, including concerts, with no need for social distancing or mask wearing.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky told press at the White House earlier this month. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Following the CDC’s announcement, some of the country’s most famous concert venues, including the 20,000-capacity Madison Square Garden arena in New York and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl (17,500-cap.), have signalled they will differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated patrons when they reopen, with the latter planning designated vaccinated seating sections where no social distancing will be required.

MSG, along with other venues in New York, will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity if patrons show proof of vaccination, under plans drawn up by New York state governor Andrew Cuomo. It hosted 15,000 people for a New York Knicks basketball game earlier this week, with vaccinated fans not required to wear a face covering.

New York venues will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination

In Florida, meanwhile, a concert promoter made headlines yesterday (26 May) after announcing plans for a ‘no-vax tax’ that would see concertgoers charged 50 times as much for tickets should they choose not to get the vaccine.

Leadfoot Promotions, which is promoting a show by pop-punk legends Teenage Bottlerocket in Saint Petersburg on 26 June, explains: “DISCOUNTED tickets are available for $18 in advance, $20 day of show. To be eligible for the DISCOUNT, you will need to bring a government issued photo ID and your PHYSICAL COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. […] If you do not care about the discount, tickets are available for a flat rate of $999.99.

“Note that all staff, volunteers, and band members will be vaccinated. Also know if you buy one of these advance tickets and show up without your vaccination card or government issued photo id [sic], you won’t be let in at this price, you will need to pay the remaining $981.99 to enter or go back and get your card. There will be NO REFUNDS. We are NOT telling you what to do here, we are making a business decision and letting the market decide. If someone wants to come in unvaccinated, they will scare off a large number of patrons and will need to pay the difference.”

Speaking to Tampa Bay’s ABC Action News, Leadfoot’s Paul Williams explains: “We’re just trying to do a show safely. And they [fans] should go out and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families and their community.”

Back in New York, baseball team the Brooklyn Nets is also incentivising immunisation by charging more for tickets sold to fans who have yet to receive both vaccines, as well as introducing a Hollywood Bowl-style vaccinated-only section at its home venue, the 19,000-capacity Barclays Center.

“We are not telling you what to do – we are making a business decision and letting the market decide”

Williams says he came up with idea of a ‘tax’ after realising in Florida he probably couldn’t legally restrict entry to those who can prove their vaccination status.

In contrast to the position taken by Cuomo in New York – where a planned ‘Excelsior pass’ will verify New Yorkers’ vaccination status – Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has taken a hard line on vaccine certification, having signed into law a ban on so-called vaccine passports earlier this month.

“Under no circumstances will the state be asking you to show proof of vaccination,” said DeSantis, “and I don’t think private companies should be doing that either. If you want to go to an event, go to an event. If you don’t, don’t. But to be requiring people to provide all this proof, that’s not how you get society back to normal.”

The launch of the Excelsior pass follows the successful roll-out of the similar green pass in Israel, where promoters were once again putting on (non-socially distanced) shows before the recent flare-up in violence. In fact, so successful is the combination of vaccination + certification that Israel will axe all restrictions – including the green pass – from the beginning of June, though health minister Yuli Edelstein says it could be re-introduced should the situation change. For now, he said, “The economy and the citizens of Israel will get extra room to breathe.”

Despite allowing for concerts of thousands of people in pandemic conditions, the green pass programme is not without its critics: writing in the UK’s Daily Telegraph today (27 May), five Israeli doctors say the scheme has ‘backfired’ by creating “two classes of citizens: the upper vaccinated and the lower unvaccinated”. This situation, they say, has resulted in a situation incompatible with the “basic principles of the medical profession”.

Talk of vaccine ‘passports’ is equally controversial in the UK, where critics warn of government overreach and an ‘us and them’ society divided along vaccination lines. As such, the UK live business is pushing for a system of certification that would also include people who have natural immunity to the virus, or who can produce a negative Covid-19 test.

“The intention of Covid-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution”

Writing to the government last month, a cross-section of the UK live entertainment, events and sports sector suggested that so-called Covid-status certification is the key to reopening venues safely following the planned abolition of all restrictions on 21 June.

“Not to be confused with the term ‘vaccination passports’, the simple premise is to reduce the likelihood of people who may be infected from attending events and ensure the safety of other attendees and event staff,” say the signatories, who include AEG Europe, the Concert Promoters’ Association, Ticketmaster, ASM Global and umbrella body LIVE. “This would be managed by ensuring that all attendees are either vaccinated OR have natural immunity OR have a negative Covid test within a set period of time prior to arrival.”

Unlike restricting entry only to those who have had the vaccine, certification would not discriminate against those who cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons, or otherwise don’t feel comfortable having being immunised against the virus, they say.

“The intention of Covid-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution that is safe, simple, protects privacy and doesn’t cause unnecessary delays or a poor experience for visitors,” the letter reads.

Outside of live events, vaccine passports are also being trialled for international travel, with the European Union, China and Japan among those developing digital vaccination certificates to enable the resumption of overseas holidays from this summer.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

NY venues that ask for proof of vax can fully reopen

New York venues are now permitted to return to full capacity, instead of one-third full, if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Major venues including Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Radio City Hall have already announced plans that centre around attendees who have been fully vaccinated.

Radio City Hall (cap 6,015) is set to reopen on 19 June at full capacity, exclusively for citizens who have been fully vaccinated, which counts for 44.6% of New Yorkers.

The news was announced by New York City governor Andrew Cuomo last week (17 May), during a conference held inside the music hall.

“Having Radio City back at 100%, without masks, with people enjoying New York, and the New York arts, is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state,” he said.

“This is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state”

James Dolan, executive chairman of the MSG Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, confirmed the venue is set to remain open and operate as usual beyond 19 June.

It’s not clear how the venue would check people’s vaccination status, but it’s likely that the Excelsior Pass will be used.

The app, launched by New York state, verifies proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination with art and entertainment venues and businesses by using a scannable QR code. It was tested during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Centre on 27 February and during the New York Rangers game on 2 March at MSG.

Yesterday (23 May), MSG welcomed 15,000 fans to watch the first round of the NBA playoffs, marking the largest indoor gathering for New York state since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, governor Cuomo announced that the city’s basketball teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, would have fully vaccinated fan sections, increasing the capacity at MSG and the Barclays Centre.

According to Dolan, almost 90% of last night’s audience had been vaccinated and therefore, were not required to socially distance or wear masks when seated.

“The public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love”

“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” said Dolan.

“This overwhelming response by Knicks fans – almost 90% of whom are vaccinated – should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank governor Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this – not just for us, but for New York.”

New York treads a similar path as Israel, which requires citizens to be doubly vaccinated to gain access to concerts, gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels.

Israelis’ vaccination status is verified by the Green Pass – a certificate issued by the ministry of health showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from Covid-19 and were presumed immune.

The ethical implications of implementing vaccine passports have been hotly debated around the world. Last week, in IQ’s first-ever Recovery Sessions, a number of experts hailing from Tel Aviv to London debated the topics of test certificates and vaccine passports.

IQ subscribers can watch the Recovery Sessions on-demand here.

 


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