Europe: German & Dutch Event Industry Not Happy With COVID Policies

What a difference: Nürburgring deserted vs. crowded during Rock am Ring Festival.
Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images
– What a difference: Nürburgring deserted vs. crowded during Rock am Ring Festival.
The German flagship event has already been forced to cancel two years in a row, as Germany is one of the slowest countries in Europe when it comes to reopening.

In Germany, coronavirus numbers are going in the same direction as last year around this time of the year, leaving the events sector in fear that the same will hold true for the imposed restrictions.

Germany’s Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft, a federation of the country’s six major promoters and events associations, stated that the events sector is facing the same dilemma as 12 months ago.
The country is still negotiating its way out of the coronavirus crisis, which proves to be a complicated matter given the fact that its 16 member states aren’t politically aligned in their efforts. The only area where decision makers seem to be in agreement is the events sector, which again faces capacity restrictions or outright bans in the coming months.
Given the existing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, another lockdown exclusively targeting the country’s sixth biggest economic sector would be out of proportion, according to the Forum, which demands an immediate meeting of decision makers and representatives of the events business.
The Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft’s concrete demands are: (1) expansion of the country’s free quick test program, seeing that in most places, people have to now pay for their quick tests. (2) Events that only admit a vaccinated or recovered audience should be able to go ahead unrestricted and without mask mandates. (3) Events that also allow unvaccinated guests, who can show a negative PCR test at the door, should also be allowed to go ahead unrestricted and without mask mandates. 
(4) All financial aid programs need to be extended, subsidies to make up for the reduced salaries of short-term employment need to be extended to July 2022. (5) The implementation of the Forum’s so-called Restartmatrix, which would help establish the same rules and regulations across all states, communities and municipalities. Last but not least, (6) talks between event professionals and the representatives in government need to be intensified immediately.
Timo Feuerbach, CEO of European venues association EVVC, said that for more than one million people working in the events sector the outlook has turned bleak yet again, resulting in an ongoing loss of skilled staff.
As Michael Kynast, member of the board of Germany’s trade association for exhibitions FAMA, points out, the data gained from the country’s most widely used contact tracing app shows that live events of all genres aren’t the main sources of infections.
According to Prof. Jens Michow, president of promoters association BDKV, the concert and festival sector alone has lost €3.5 billion ($4bn) in revenues across the past 20 months, a figure that’s estimated to reach €8.5 billion ($9.7bn) by the end of the year. Looking at the loss of sales in the country’s MICE sector, the figure’s even higher, amounting to some €81 billion ($92bn) by the end of 2021.
The Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft represents the promoters association BDKV, the European venues association EVVC, the trade association for exhibitions FAMA, the interest group for self-employed event professionals ISDV, club association LIVEKOMM as well as the association for event tech VPLT.
It is not to be confused with Germany’s Bundesvereinigung Veranstaltungswirtschaft, which also aims to represent the full range of the country’s events sector. Pollstar has reached out to both to find out whether the joining of forces wouldn’t make sense in the current times, but hadn’t heard back at press time.

For the next couple of weeks, matches at Amsterdam
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
– For the next couple of weeks, matches at Amsterdam
The Dutch government imposed another lockdown.

“Lockdown Light” In The Netherlands

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, a new lockdown has been imposed by the government, claiming it has recorded high numbers of positive tests in recent days. 
The lockdown is described as a partial lockdown, as it does not outright shut down bars and restaurant. Instead, like supermarkets, they need to close by 8 p.m. For stores selling non-essential items, the curfew begins at 6 p.m. Also, sports stadiums once again aren’t allowed to permit an audience for the time being.
Live events are limited to 1,250 people, seated, and indoors, and only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The country’s promoters association VNPF warned of new lockdowns as early as Friday, Nov. 12, when reports of the government planning another lockdown first surfaced.
The association yet again urges politicians to heed the facts and figures determined through scientific experiments and pilot events, not just in the Netherlands, but all across Europe and the UK.
“It is clear that the increase in infections is not caused by organizations affiliated with VNPF. Canceling concerts and other events is therefore not a solution to the problem of increased infections,” a statement from the association translates, describing the political decisions as purely symbolic in nature.
The ongoing measures will only erode the acceptance of the country’s coronavirus entry system, requiring people to show health proofs at the door, as “buying a ticket for a concert or event almost becomes a false promise.”
The Dutch Football Association and the country’s first and second-highest soccer leagues chime with the VNPF. “It is more than frustrating to see that the cabinet is apparently not looking at the sources of infection. These did not take place in the stadiums, as has been demonstrated several times,” a joint statement translates.
More on the scientific insights gained from pilot events: