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German live events group welcomes reopening plan

Health experts and scientists have laid out guidelines for a phased return of audiences to cultural and sporting events in Germany.

In a paper, titled the ‘Gradual return of spectators and guests: An integrated return to culture and sport,’ a mixture of 20 contributors from infectious diseases, virology, ventilation, culture, law and others, created models for indoor and outdoor events to allow them to reopen safely.

The basic model, which can be expanded to slowly increase the capacity of fans at an event, is based on an indoor capacity of 25–30 per cent (up to 40 per cent if outdoors). It would require fans to wear face masks, with no food or beverage sales indoors, as well as no F&B sales above 1,000 visitors outdoors. In addition, this phase should see events adhere to social distancing restrictions through leaving seats empty.

The paper also sets out a number of ‘special individual concepts’ depending on the venue or event, with varying hygiene, ventilation and occupancy requirements.

The ‘maximum model’ requires, among other provisions, digital contact tracing for all attendees, along with mandatory coronavirus tests before entry.

The concept has been backed by major German venues, including Mercedes-Benz Arena/Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Olympiapark Munich and Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, as well as a number of other music and sports organisations, including the the governing bodies of German football, basketball, handball and volleyball.

Following the release of the plan, the Event Management Forum, the umbrella organisation founded last year by live music group BDKV and four other events associations, welcomed the concept, calling the guide “a well-founded contribution to the discussion for the urgently needed political conception to open up cultural and sporting life in Germany.”

However, it does note that there is a need for “adjustment at crucial points”. The group said the concept is “not yet suitable for actually enabling a ‘restart’ of event operations.”

It added: “It contains a basic model that should enable venues of all sizes to operate with 25 to 30 per cent capacity, while outdoors with up to 40 per cent capacity, while observing basic requirements such as social distancing, hygiene rules and personalised ticketing.”

However, the Event Management Forum added that “in the Dortmund aerosol study, a capacity of 100 per cent was considered harmless, provided that the audience in the hall wear masks.”

Whereas for the ‘maximum model’ proposed in the plan, the organisation highlights that venues could safely go to 100 per cent capacity if attendees are tested for COVID-19 before entry, making the other restrictions redundant.

“The implementation of suitable tests can enable the utilisation of 100 per cent [of a venue] without further measures if this ensures that only negative, non-infectious visitors are admitted to the respective venue,” the organisation adds.