Monday, August 31, 2020

Reopening Europe: France Scraps Distancing Below 5,000 Cap, Germany Extends Event Ban, 'Time Is Pressing' In Switzerland | Pollstar News

A video projection of a concert, shown as part of this yearCLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/AFP via Getty ImagesA video projection of a concert, shown as part of this yearThe 2020 edition was cancelled due to the event band imposed in reaction to COVID-19.
France Scraps Distancing Below 5,000 Cap

France has lifted the distancing and mask requirements for indoor gatherings up to 5,000 people in low-risk areas.

The announcement was mad by France's prime minister Jean Castex in a radio interview with

France Inter

, Aug. 26, about his plans for reviving the country's economy, which has been severely affected by the lockdown.

The country's cultural minister Roselyne Bachelot confirmed the announcement soon after via Twitter.

Live Nation France managing director Angelo Gopee told Pollstar that there were still red zones in France, in particular in the south of the country, but also in the capital Paris, where distance still needs to be maintained and masks remain mandatory indoors.

The French government has pledged €100 billion ($119 billion) for the country's economic recovery, of which €2 billion ($2,3 billion) have been earmarked for the cultural sector. 

The detailed plan on the distribution of the funds will be published Sept. 3. 

Participants wearing face masks watch singer Tim Bendzko perform in the RESTART-19 Covid transmission risk assessment study in a concert setting at an indoor arena during the coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 22, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesParticipants wearing face masks watch singer Tim Bendzko perform in the RESTART-19 Covid transmission risk assessment study in a concert setting at an indoor arena during the coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 22, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. The study, organized by the University Hospital of Halle (Saale), simulates a live concert venue with several thousand audience members in three different scenarios in order to develop risk reduction measures for large events.
Germany Extends Event Ban

Germany has extended the ban on large events until the end of this year, but hasn't detailed the size of events it considers large.

Basically, any event of a size that makes contact tracing and the observance of hygiene regulations impossible, is too large.

This means that Christmas markets, for instance, which are a staple in the country, might still be able to take place, if organisers come up with a valid concept.

However, as the case of

Live Nation's Return to Live in Germany

showed, even the most well-thought out hygiene and safety concept might not be enough to convince the politicians that it's safe to stage larger events.

As usual, the individual states have some leeway when it comes to interpreting and implementing federal directives. 

Passenger performing on OpenAir St.GallenGeorge Eberle / georgeberle.chPassenger performing on OpenAir St.GallenA staple in the Swiss festival landscape, the event was one of countless Covid-19 casualties this year.
Swiss Promoters Association: 'The Damage Has Been Done'

In Switzerland, the federal council decided that events with more than 1,000 guests will be possible again from Oct. 1, provided that the responsible canton approves them.

Pollstar reached out to the country's promoters association SMPA to get the lowdown from CEO Stefan Breitenmoser, who said the directive may give organizers a perspective, but not certainty, as the approval criteria for events have not been defined.

"The only thing that is clear is that a permit that has already been granted can be withdrawn again at short notice, due to the epidemiological situation or the limited contact tracing capacity of the cantons," he explained.

"This shows how fragile the situation is; the federal council has pointed out several times that the virus will ultimately determine the next steps. Accordingly, planning uncertainty remains, so that no new events will be organized and others cancelled.

"The damage has already been done anyway. As has been the case since the end of February, not many (major) events will be held this autumn/winter either, as most of them have already had to be postponed or cancelled until 2021 or could not even be planned at all."

Breitenmoser pointed out, that "the prerequisite for events with more than 1,000 guests is a credible, functioning and economically feasible protection concept that is designed for the various types of events," and called the industry associations to adapt the existing concepts to the current conditions. 

At the same time, however, SMPA also hopes, "that the authorities will give us clear feedback on this and that they involve us when they define measures themselves. Unfortunately, the federal authorities have so far hardly taken up the SMPA's offer to enter into a dialogue and to define further action together."

Concerts at Blausee, Switzerland.Concerts at Blausee, Switzerland.Promoter Gadget has developed a safety concept for the event, which is capped at 1,000.

"Time is pressing," according to Breitenmoser, who continued: "As in other countries, the situation in the industry is deteriorating day by day."

And he explained the intricacies decision makers seem to have forgotten about the reality of working conditions in the live events sector. So, while it was "indeed gratifying that the simplified procedure for short-time work will be continued until the end of 2020," the problem is, "that fixed-term contracts and work on call are no longer taken into account, forms of work that are particularly widespread in our industry.

"At the same time, compensation for the self-employed and for employers and persons similar to employers, which for some time now has only been intended for cases of hardship anyway, is being phased out. Surely those who pay social security contributions should also be insured if necessary."

According to the experienced promoter, "it will take at least until mid/end 2021 before normal operations can be resumed. For this reason, the extension of the default compensation (with a corresponding increase in credit) is urgently needed as well. For the cultural sector, other forms of support must also be discussed, as the compensation for loss of earnings will soon no longer be effective."

And he concluded: "Sport, culture and social life are also important for Swiss society. Now we have to find the way back to normality, we have to learn to live with the virus.

"The public must be able to rebuild confidence in events after being bombarded with raw infection figures for months. And the audience must also take responsibility for itself, otherwise the best concepts are useless."



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