The latest on club reopenings, closings and music festivals affected by COVID-19.
With over ten million cases worldwide, the reopening of the nightlife economy will be gradual. While scenes in China have seen nightlife cautiously return, South Korea's initial club reopenings were linked to a spike of COVID-19 infections in the country, resulting in another nightlife shutdown. Given that, it feels unlikely live music, festivals and club nights will completely return in absence of a vaccine. Still, various governments, like Spain and Ireland, have outlined multi-stage plans to reopen clubs, music festivals and venues along with the rest of economy.
Members of the industry have also been working together to formulate plans and resources to support fellow venues owners, promoters and other industry workers. Live events expert Morgan Deane has published the COVID-19 nightlife guide A Light In The Night to share her knowledge of small, independent venues and strategies on reopening. It'll continue to be updated as the industry learns more through the pandemic. The Independent Electronic Forum (IEF) has published a report that analyzes the pandemic's impact on the industry, extrapolates what can be improved upon and shares guiding principles for the immediate future and beyond.
Here's the latest on nightlife reopenings.
Last updated: 19:10 BST Tuesday, July 9th
In a conference today, July 9th, UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced that outdoor performances of music, dance, opera and theatre can resume from July 11th with social-distancing measures. The government has also published guidance for safe practices for those working in venues and other arts spaces, as well as further detail on the following stages of bringing back outdoor and indoor performances. Those are: outdoor-only with social distancing; outdoor and indoor venues with social distancing; and outdoor and indoor spaces with larger audience capacity. However, there are no official dates for those stages.
Scotland has placed a firm hold on outdoor live music events until at least July 31st.
The UK government announced a number of schemes intended to stimulate the economy this week. One of those included a VAT break on "hospitality and leisure services," dropping the tax rate from 20 percent to 5 percent for six months. Complete Music Update confirms that this break will apply to concert and gig ticket sales.
This week the government announced a £1.57 billion package for arts, culture and heritage industries, however details are still unknown, as are which cultural areas and institutions are confirmed eligible to access the funds.
The UK government's third phase of lockdown-easing began on July 4th. Pubs and restaurants are allowed to reopen with limited capacity and safety measures in place. Patrons will also be required to submit contact details upon entering (this is in line with contact-tracing practices that are already in place in other countries and being pushed for in the UK). Hotels, campsites and other holiday accommodations can reopen, too. While cultural spaces like museums and galleries may reopen, nightclubs must remain closed.
In early May, the UK Home Office shared the 60-page document Our Plan To Rebuild. It includes a three-step plan for phasing out the UK lockdown. Nightclubs were mentioned once: "While reopening outdoor spaces and activities (subject to continued social distancing) comes earlier in the roadmap because the risk of transmission outdoors is significantly lower, it is likely that reopening indoor public spaces and leisure facilities (such as gyms and cinemas), premises whose core purpose is social interaction (such as nightclubs), venues that attract large crowds (like sports stadiums), and personal care establishments where close contact is inherent (like beauty salons) may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections."
Clubs in Osaka and Hokkaido prefectures are currently able to operate under a suite of restrictions, and the Japanese government outlined a plan to reopen venues across the country from June 19th. A list of guidelines includes a reduction in capacity by between 50 and 75 percent, social distancing of at least one metre, patrons wearing masks at all times and volume set at a minimal level to prevent loud conversation—a measure the government says is in place to avoid spreading droplets of the virus.
In Tokyo, the local government is giving clubs ¥500,000 to stay closed for at least ten days, Bloomberg reports.
Read Nyshka Chandran's May report about how Japan's venues are coping.
Canada has reopened bars, with limited reopenings of nightclubs also happening in specific cities and regions, including Montreal, Vancouver.
The Canadian government has created a $20 million fund to support the for-profit live music industry.
Switzerland's Federal Council has increased the maximum number of people allowed to attend indoor public gatherings from 300 to 1,000 with no social distancing, according to a government site. The decision, which applies to concert halls, theaters and cinemas, does contain some limitations aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. In cases where the attendance exceeds 300 people, audiences will have to be separated by partitions or rooms holding up to 300. Events with more than 1,000 people remain banned until at least August 31st, 2020. (After a recent club night at Zurich's Flamingo Club, 300 punters were told to quarantine after one attendee tested postive for COVID-19, Mixmag reports.)
The council stressed protective measures like capacity limits and other hygiene and social distancing rules must be followed carefully, noting that the virus is still a present threat within the country. Matthias Egger, who leads Switzerland's coronavirus task force, cautioned that recent moves to ease lockdown could have disastrous results. "We are not ready for the most recent easing," he told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. "We are still lacking, like previously, a functioning monitoring system for the whole of Switzerland. It's also unclear how good the contact tracing system is."
The Alpine country has also lifted travel restrictions on all European Union member states as of June 15th. This allowance includes those from the United Kingdom and Schengen Area countries like Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.
As of June 24th, the Dutch government has increased the number of people allowed in indoor spaces from 30 to 100, provided guests have their own seats. For outdoor venues, the limit expands to 250. These capacity restrictions do not apply when an establishment can require prior reservations, compulsory seating and health checks at the door. The current ban on nightclubs and discos, however, remains in place until September 1st, 2020.
While the spread has slowed in recent weeks, the Netherlands was among those European countries with the highest rate of infections per capita. "We can be done with the virus but the virus is not done with us," said Health minister Hugo de Jonge in a press conference on Wednesday, stressing the importance of preventing a second wave. "We are only really protected if there is a vaccine," he added.
Eased lockdown restrictions will go into effect as of July 1st in Belgium, Reuters reports. The new rules allow venues to hold indoor events of up to 200 people, and outdoor events of up to 400 people, with the requirement social distancing and hygiene measures are observed.
"We are still not safe from a rebound of the epidemic," the country's prime minister, Sophie Wilmes, told reporters on Wednesday before observing, "This summer will have a peculiar taste."
Bars and nightclubs are allowed to reopen from June 8th as Spain enters phase three of its reopening process, El Pais reports. However, dancing is not allowed because dance floors "should be used to install tables or groups of tables, and cannot be employed for its habitual use." Social distancing must be observed. Ibiza's indoor superclubs are reportedly staying closed all year, however, 130 people were evicted from a private party hosted at Amnesia Ibiza over the June 28th weekend.
From May 25th, outdoor events of up to 400 people and indoor events with a maximum capacity of 50 attendees were allowed to resume. Festival Cruïlla, whose 2020 edition was meant to occur July 2nd through 4th, has announced a major initiative called Cruïlla XXS, a series of 200 open-air events set to take place in July across Barcelona in venues such as the Design Museum of Barcelona and the gardens of the Catalan national theater. (IQ Magazine)
From July 1st, Spain will allow international visitors into the country without a required quarantine period. For more details and local promoter reaction, read our reports here and here.
The Berlin Senate has lifted all contact restrictions, which will take effect on Saturday, June 27th. Outdoor events with more than 1,000 capacity are banned through August 31st, then the capacity limit is raised to 5,000 through October 24th. Indoor events cannot exceed 300 people through July 31st. In September the indoor capacity limit is raised to 750 people, and then through October 24th, maximum capacity is 1,000.
The German government has committed to providing €1 billion to the cultural sector, with more than €150 million allotted specifically for live music, according to Music Business Worldwide.
Germany has allowed for all shops to reopen with social-distancing measures, which has been good news for the country's record stores.
Some Berlin clubs, including Sisyphos, reopened as of Friday, May 15th, as afternoon beer gardens operating with a food license. The state of Bavaria also reopened restaurants on May 18th, according to the BBC.
Nationwide, Germany's holds a ban on clubs, theaters and cultural sites until July 31st. Events with 5,000 people or more are banned until October 24th.
The US has begun an uneven reopening effort, with certain localities, such as Austin, Texas, and Springfield, Kentucky, pushing to open bars and nightclubs imminently. With the world's largest concentration of infections and deaths, reopening efforts in cities like New York and Los Angeles will be carried out in phases, with nightclubs and bars likely being among the last businesses to open.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will be moving into the second phase of it's reopening beginning Monday, June 22nd [date corrected from earlier version]. This means that restaurants and bars with outdoor seating will be allowed to serve with spaced-out tables. Customers will be required to wear masks when not at their tables and must only sit with members of their household. Nowadays announced its outdoor space will open in a "limited" capacity on Wednesday, July 1st, with more details here.
Ohio music festival company ESK Presents is suing state and county health officials over what it deems a "baseless" ban on large events during the pandemic, IQ reports. Ohio is currently seeing between 300 and 700 new reported cases of COVID-19 each day.
In New South Wales, the state home to Sydney, nightclubs could be allowed to open as early as August if community transmission rates are kept low, although a four-square-metre-per-person rule to allow for social distancing is likely to be enforced. Outdoor concert venues in the state can also begin to operate again from July 1st at up to a quarter of their capacity, provided they are seated events. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues have gradually reopened in other states around the country, and clubs in Western Australia have been allowed to reopen unimpeded, however Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed his specific concern about nightclubs as recently as June 12th, calling them "one of the areas of failure" in other countries around the world.
The Australian Government has pledged $75 million to aid the country's ailing festival and events industry.
After ten weeks in lockdown, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on June 8th that all COVID-19 restrictions, aside from international border controls, would be lifted, saying, "We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus." The move means the country can more or less return to business as usual, with clubs and festivals effectively able to operate without capacity limits or social distancing measures. However, three new cases forced some restrictions to tighten again.
Earlier, the government announced a $175 million arts and creative sector funding package.
As of May18th, Denmark's lockdown has been lifted. There will be a "controlled reopening" of borders beginning June 27th.
As of June, seated concerts have returned across Portugal, with venues operating at 50 percent capacity. Masks and social distancing are obligatory, while only guests from the same household may sit next to each other.
Bars and nightclubs in Iceland opened their doors on Monday night as the government eased lockdown rules. The move represents a shift to "alert phase" for Iceland, which has tested 17 percent of its population, with 1,804 confirmed cases and ten deaths. Icelandic bars and clubs are now required to close by 11 PM, as opposed to the customary 3 AM on weekdays and 4:30 AM on weekends.
Iceland, which draws 10 percent of its GDP from tourism, plans to reopen its borders on June 15th, with tests offered at Keflavík Airport in Reykjavík for travelers wishing to avoid a 14-day quarantine. Doubts remain as to whether summer festivals and concerts will occur as scheduled, reported Agence-France Presse.
Hong Kong will reopen its airports, nightclubs, karaoke bars, party rooms and more, albeit with a limit of eight people per group, beginning Thursday, May 28th. There have been no new COVID-19 cases in the region in nearly two weeks, reported Forbes. (We've used a photo of Hong Kong's 宀 club, which reopened on May 22nd, to accompany this article.)
Though Colombia has started relax restrictions on public movement, Colombian president Iván Duque has said that events that draw large crowds—such as concerts—will likely be a distant prospect. The worst case scenario is about 18 months from now, when a vaccine is available, though other scenarios could see events happening anywhere from between six and 12 months from now. Duque has said the government is trying to help bars, nightclubs and venues "reinvent" themselves to work better in the era of social distancing, so they can open without triggering another outbreak.
Italy, which had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, has begun lifting its lockdown in stages. As of Monday, May 18th, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen with restrictions around table spacing and masks required for patrons when not sat at tables, according to The Local IT.
By June 15th, live music events of up to 200 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors can return, so long as there is assigned seating, with mask-wearing attendees sat one meter apart, DJ Mag Italia reports. Nightclubs were not acknowledged in the Council Of Ministers' new decree, although Sicilian officials said clubs on the island can reopen on June 8th, pending government approval.
France extended its ban on 5,000-capacity or larger events from mid-July to September 1st, according to IQ magazine. On June 2nd, some bars, restaurants, terraces and more reopened with restrictions.
After South Korea recently relaxed social-distancing measures, including allowing clubs to reopen the weekend of April 24th, there's been a spike in COVID-19 infections, forcing another closure of clubs.
The Portuguese government has banned music festivals until September 30th, and it's also getting involved in refunds for ticket holders, according to ECO. "If shows, scheduled between February 28th and September 30th, are not performed due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the government announced, "the consumers will be provided with 'a voucher of equal value to the ticket price paid.'"
The Irish government's 23-page document Roadmap For Reopening Society & Business outlines five phases with tentative timeframes, with the final stage (estimated date August 10th) allowing for "festivals, events and other social mass gatherings... where social distancing can be complied with."
Businesses in China, such as clubs and bars, have been permitted to open their doors. Nyshka Chandran spoke to venue owners and staff, promoters and DJs in Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing to see how local scenes are recovering after the coronavirus lockdown—read the in-depth report.
We'll continue updating this post as countries announce and update lockdown-lifting plans.
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Photo credit: Bar Open