Chinese Performance Venues Increase Capacity
The Global Times reports that China’s performance venues may now seat more audience members as the country relaxes attendance restrictions on public venues. Prior to Aug. 14 venues were limited to 30% capacity but now they can increase attendance to 50% capacity according to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
In addition, there will no longer be a requirement that people who enter performance venues maintain one meter of distance with one another, though they will still be asked to “avoid close contact,” says the Global Times. Otherwise, venues still need to uphold “strict epidemic control rules” in order to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.
An employee of the Shanghai Grand Theater told the Global Times that they immediately started selling more tickets to upcoming events based on the new rules, which also apply to movie theaters. From now on there will no longer be a mandatory five-minute break after two hours of a screened film in order to ventilate and disinfect a theater.
However, movie theaters must still maintain an empty seat next to each seated patron. While eating and drinking are being allowed again, food and beverages cannot be brought to seats.
China says it has successfully contained the virus and one report in Global News said that “thousands of people” attended an electronic music concert in the city of Wuhan, considered the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic when it started, while standing in a giant swimming pool.
Photos from the Playa Maya Water Park show tourists swimming and floating without the masks or social distancing measures that were obligatory in the city two months ago.
The photos show the pool packed while people danced to a DJ who played songs from a central stage. Global Times says that the water park reopened in June and has been running at 50 percent capacity ever since.
Local authorities say that no new cases have been reported since mid-May, though many people take the word of the Chinese authorities with a grain of salt. On Aug. 17 the Chinese government announced that there were 22 new cases of coronavirus in the entire country, and that none were from the community but, instead, were brought into China from outside.
Japan Extends COVID Restrictions
As infections continue to mount in Japan, the government has decided to extend its restrictions for concerts and sporting events that limit attendance to 5,000 people per event, regardless of the size of the venue involved.
The original restrictions were relaxed from 1,000 spectators to 5,000 on July 10, and the current limits were to be in effect until the end of August, but now the 5,000 limit will be in place indefinitely pending formal government approval.
The infection rates for Tokyo have exceeded 300 for a number of days running, and while media report that the sudden surge is probably due to an increase in testing in the capital, it follows the lifting of a state of emergency that was in place until early June.
So far the government has said it does not intend to reinstate the state of emergency, though the Tokyo municipal government has asked drinking establishments to close every evening by 10 p.m. in order to lessen the possibility of infections.
Korea Sees Spike In COVID Cases
The Korea Herald reports that COVID-19 cases are also soaring again in Seoul, after several months of what seemed like success in keeping the virus in check.
On Aug.15 the Seoul municipal government raised its “social distancing plan” to Level 2, which means that all private and public indoor gatherings are restricted to 50 persons and outdoor gatherings to 100 persons.
As a result, the popular musical “Mozart,” which is being staged at the city's Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, has begun offering 100 percent refunds to anyone who booked a seat before Aug. 15.
In an announcement, the producers of the show, EMK Musical Company, said, “Those who do not want to watch the musical can contact the customer service center of each online reservations platform.”
Refunds are also available for a local production of “Rent,” and commission-free cancellations are available for people who made reservations for two other musicals, “Marie Curie” and “Murder Ballad.”
In addition, the Busan Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening performance of Beethoven at a music festival sponsored by the Lotte Foundation for the Arts was cancelled.
However, the rest of the classical music festival, which is supposed to run through Aug. 30, has not been cancelled as of this writing. Conductor Christoph Poppen of the Cologne Chamber Orchestra recently completed his mandatory 14-day quarantine period after entering South Korea in order to helm the festival, but a statement from the sponsors say that it is up to the individual participating ensembles if they want to perform or not.
The Seoul Arts Center, which is state-funded, has also cancelled some of its events scheduled for the next two weeks. Those that have not been cancelled will have attendance limited to 50 percent capacity.
Organizations that are renting the venue for events have been informed of the change. Also, the government's plan to distribute discount coupons for concerts, exhibitions, cinemas and sporting events has been put on hold.
However, coupons for lodging and travel are still being distributed. In all, the coupons are worth some $76 million.
Midi Music Festival Stages In China
Xinhua news service reports that the two-day Midi Music Festival, probably the first major music festival to take place in Asia since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, kicked off on Aug. 15 in the Chongli District of Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province.
Midi is the biggest and oldest outdoor pop music festival in China. One employee told reporters, “What stands out about this year's event is that even though we have been through so many struggles and pain due to the epidemic, we still have a passion not only for the music but for hope.”
All of the acts of Chinese rock groups, including CMCB, Bloody Woods and Life Awaits. The mountain-set festival attracted sell-out crowds of 4,600 people per day, according to the organizer, the Beijing Midi Music School.