Monkeypox: German Events Sector Criticizes ‘Fear Mongering’ WHO

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Dancer at Exit Festival 2021. The WHO indicated that festivals could facilitate the spread of monkeypox. (Picture by EXIT photo team 2021)

Associations representing the German events sector have criticized the World Health Organization for suggesting that this summer’s festivals may amplify monkeypox transmission.

The Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft, a joint venture of six associations of the German live events trade, said it was “appalled by this irresponsible fear-mongering, for which there are no grounds whatsoever.”

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, claimed “festivals and large parties planned” in summer could pose a high-risk of monkeypox transmission in a statement published on the WHO’s Euro website.

“Monkeypox has already spread against the backdrop of several mass gatherings in the region,” Kluge writes, without getting specific. “Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur,” the statement continues.

According to the Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft, the WHO was engaging in scare tactics “without any sound basis.” Germany’s health minister, as well as the country’s national institute for health (RKI) “and many other experts, the disease does not transmits easily from person to person. The virus is therefore in no way comparable to the infectiousness of the coronavirus,” a joint statement from the live associations reads.

The WHO comments came at a time when many people were just finding their confidence to return to live events again, and many were still afraid of catching coronavirus at a gathering, the Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft reasons.

“After a two-year forced break, the events industry is struggling to hold events again, somewhat economically, under difficult conditions,” the associations explain.

Timo Feuerbach is the managing director of the European association of event venues, EVVC e.V., one of the members of the Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft. Feuerbach said, “People aren’t just gathering closely at major events and festivals, but also in open-air swimming pools, fitness centers, on public transport, planes, and in many other places. To warn of an increased risk of infection at festivals by ‘sexually active people’ is completely inappropriate.”

Feuerbach was referring Kluge’s statement, which mentions monkeypox transmission through sexual activity several times.

“The statements of Dr. Kluge are not only wrong and stir up unnecessary fear among visitors of events, but they significantly complicate the economic situation of the sixth largest industry, which is still unable to get back on its feet economically due to the Corona pandemic. Help or warning calls should not be used so irresponsibly.” added Marcus Pohl, chairman of ISDV e.V., the interest group for self-employed service providers in the live sector.

Therefore, the Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft expects the WHO “to refrain from such scaremongering in the future,” the statement concludes.

Aside from the above-mentioned EVVC and ISDV, the Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft comprises the German promoters association BDKV, the trade association for exhibitions and trade fairs FAMA, the umbrella organization for Germany’s clubs LiveKomm, as well as the association for media and event technology VLPT.

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