Reopening Europe: Dutch Health Minister Wants Vaccine First, Spanish Music Sector Feels Neglected
Pierre Crom/Getty Images – April 27 King’s Day Celebrations in Amsterdam, Netherlands
A man walks disguised as the Corona virus. A man walks disguised as the Corona virus.
The Dutch government may be banning mass gatherings for at least one year or more.
Like most countries, the Netherlands is planning to lift the restrictions it imposed on public life out of fear of Coronavirus in phases. The return of mass gatherings are part of the last phase, for which the country’s health minister Hugo de Jonge was unable to give a timeline.
In a letter to parliament he wrote: “For the last step, the massive events with a rural appearance, we cannot give a date yet. That is actually only possible if there is a vaccine and no one knows how long that will take. We hope of course soon, but a year or more is very real.”
At the moment, the Dutch government has banned large gatherings until Sept. 1, a decision that put an end to the event summer of one of the festival-richest countries in Europe.
Pinkpop, Lowlands, Down The Rabbit Hole, North Sea Jazz Festival, the Eurovision Song Contest, which was set to take place in Rotterdam this year, are just some of the more prominent names that had to cancel their 2020 editions.
De Jonge’s opinion, if taken as basis for the Dutch governments roadmap after Sept. 1, would also mean that soccer matches will be played in empty stadiums for the foreseeable future.
Neighboring Germany just announced that its soccer league Bundesliga will recommence from Mai 15 in empty stadiums.
Meanwhile in Spain, the newly-formed industry association Es_Música has voiced its disappointment about the Spanish government’s economic rescue package, which fails to recognize the economic importance of the country’s music sector.
Jordi Vidal/Redferns via Getty Images – Primavera Sound Festival rescheduled to Aug. 26-30.
However, given the phased approach to lifting the bans on public life most European countries are taking, it seems unlikely the event will go ahead.
In a statement, Es_Música writes that the measures presented by government on May 5 show a “clear imbalance” in the treatment of the music industry in relation to other cultural sectors.
It particularly points out that the government failed to give promoters clarity around the question of whether the threat of Covid-19 qualified as force majeure – a crucial question when it comes to dealing with all business partners, from agents to suppliers.
What is more, some of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, including Catalonia, have declared Covid-19 force majeure. It’s the reason Primavera Sound announced it would postpone to August, although it’s still not clear whether that will go ahead.
Seeing that the country’s authorities have already announced that public life would reopen in phases, and that mass events would be last on the list.
In Spain, starting May 11, indoor venues up to 90 capacity will be allowed to host a maximum of 30 people. Open-air events will be allowed to host up to 200 people, as long as they’re seated and ensure that restrictions on distance are kept, VenuesNow reports.
Spanish promoters are also hoping for governmental guidance on ticket refunds. Other European countries like Germany or the Netherlands, for instance, have introduced legislation that allows promoters to delay the paying out of refunds, in order to help with cash liquidity.
As Es_Música points out, the music sector is currently also excluded from tax relief measures as well as from any direct subsidies and other specific support measures.
Only certain artists currently qualify for the government’s unemployment measures, and Es_Música has asked that these measures be extended to all artists as well as all people working in the value chain with them: specialized technicians in production, logistics, services, marketing, ticketing, transportation, concert hall staff, record companies, recording studios, publishers and promoters, among others.
Es_Música calls for a financial compensation fund, which would function as a temporary basic income for authors, producers, musicians and self-employed professionals in the music industry, who’ve been paralyzed by the governmental shut down of the economy.