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France to lift capacity limits on festivals, open-air concerts

Festivals and open-air concerts in France will be able to welcome full capacity crowds from June 30, as part of the government’s latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

From next week, social distancing rules will be lifted for all concerts, as well as the current attendance cap of 5,000 for outdoor events.

The changes also include requiring all events of more than 1,000 people to request attendees’ health passports, which shows evidence of both vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test in the last 48 hours.

However, indoor concerts and events will still be required to limit capacity to 75 per cent.

In addition, wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory but it continues to be recommended.

Prior to this week’s announcement, festivals in France were only allowed up to 5,000 people, seated, with social distancing equivalent to a space of 4m² for each person.

Aurélie Hannedouche, head of the Union of Contemporary Music (SMA), said, according to Le Dauphiné libéré: “It was unrealistic; people cannot sit in their own little square.”

While Hannedouche welcomed the easing of some restrictions, she said it is too late for several major events, such as Hellfest and Rock en Seine, which were forced to cancel earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Malika Seguineau, head of live music industry association Prodiss, is glad to see the return of standing concerts, but has criticised the need for the pass sanitaire (health passport), claiming that people do not understand it.

Despite her issues with the pass, Seguineau tells Le Monde the return of full-capacity live events is a step in the right direction. She said: “We haven’t had any standing shows for fifteen months. Now we will be able to restart, within these conditions.”

Image: Veld Music Festival/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size