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European Commission says festivals and concerts should reopen last

The European Commission has indicated in a document that festivals and concerts should be the last form of activity to restart following the COVID-19 shutdown of events.

The EU Commission, which is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU, has published guidelines highlighting a staggered restart to socioeconomic activities.

The ‘Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures’ document states that action should be coordinated between member states, adding that “the spread of the virus cannot be contained within borders and actions taken in isolation are bound to be less effective.”

The proposed reinstatement of gatherings of people starts with the reopening of educational institutes, followed by retail activity, then opening restaurants, cafes and bars and finally mass gatherings.

The lifting of measures, which the commission underlined needs to be gradual, has been proposed in line with exit plans laid out by governments in Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Festivals and concerts, among other mass gatherings, have been cancelled or postponed across Europe in recent months due to the pandemic as bans continue to be extended throughout the summer. For example, the Danish government banned all events over 1,000-capacity until August 31, meaning the likes of Roskilde Festival, which welcomes almost 150,000 punters each year, has cancelled its 2020 edition, among others.

The commission said: “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.”

The roadmap also looks at a “phased approach” for opening borders, adding that “in the transition phase, the efforts to maintain an unobstructed flow of goods and to secure supply chains should be reinforced.”

The commission said not all workers should return at the same time, with an initial focus on less endangered groups and sectors that are essential to facilitate economic activity. It also encouraged working from home measures to remain in place where possible.

It also highlighted its move towards a more coordinated effort between member states.

The document read: “In order to streamline coordination efforts, the Commission will be ready to develop further guidance, when necessary or requested, in order to ensure a gradual transition from general confinement.

“The more such transition is coordinated at EU level, the more negative spill-overs between Member States will be avoided and the implementation of measures across different Member States will be mutually reinforcing.

“Successfully coordinating the lifting of containment measures at EU level will also positively impact the EU’s recovery.”