Progressive Permission Of Public Life: EU Lists Festivals Last
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images – People walking through the Theresienwiese meadow, the site of the annual Oktoberfest beer fest in Munich, Germany, April 21, 2020.
One of Germany’s most popular mass gatherings, Oktoberfest announced its first cancellation in 73 years.
The EU Commission and the EU Council published a roadmap toward what they describe as “preserving the European values and way of life,” after EU member states decide to lift the bans currently imposed on public life due to the threat of COVID-19.
In the document, the EU bodies hint at the fact that festivals and concerts will be the last to open.
All European member states have currently prohibited public gatherings, closed (totally or partially) schools and introduced border/travel restrictions.
More than half of the EU’s Member States have proclaimed a state of emergency. In various countries constitutionalists, medical experts as well as, in the case of Germany, medical lawyers have been criticizing the proportionality of the measures all along.
The latest EU document, dubbed the “Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures,” includes one bullet point on public gatherings.
It states, “Gatherings of people should be progressively permitted. When reflecting on the most appropriate sequencing, Member States should focus on the specificities of different categories of activity.”
This is followed by a list seemingly ordered according to priority:
“a) Schools and universities (with specific measures such as different lunch times, enhanced cleaning, smaller classrooms, increased reliance on e-learning, etc.);
b) Commercial activity (retail) with possible gradation (e.g. maximum number of people allowed, etc.);
c) Social activity measures (restaurants, cafes, etc.), with possible gradation (restricted opening hours, maximum number of people allowed, etc.);
d) Mass gatherings (e.g. festivals, concerts, etc.).”
Governments have started to implement points a) and b) this week. There’s no concrete plan yet for restaurants, cafes, etc, and certainly not for large gatherings like festivals.
As of now, most European governments have banned large events until Aug. 31, effectively killing the summer festival season. September events have started to cancel as well.
The EU document states: “Even though the way back to normality will be very long, it is also clear that the extraordinary confinement measures cannot last indefinitely. There is a need for a continuous assessment on whether they are still proportionate as our knowledge of the virus and the disease evolves.
‘It is indispensable to plan for the phase when Member States can restart economic and social activities while minimising any impact on people’s health and does not overburden health care systems. This will require a well-coordinated approach in the EU and among all Member States.”