Spain to phase in live music events in May as part of lockdown exit plan

This also includes the reopening of cinemas and theatres at a third of capacity

Concerts could be back in action in Spain as early as May following the government’s recently announced lockdown exit plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan laid out by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez this week (April 28) envisages the country reopening in four stages, starting now from phase zero which will last until May 11.

Each phase is expected to last two weeks minimum with phase one — starting on May 11 — allowing “cultural events” to return with a maximum capacity of 30 people for indoor venues that usually have a capacity of 90 or more.

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The government will allow a capacity of 200 people for open-air events, with social distancing rules applied, and all outdoor programs must be seated events.

This capacity restriction will decrease for phase two — starting on May 25 — as indoor concerts are expected to reopen at a third of their usual capacity, with a maximum capacity of 50 people.

Spain is welcoming live music events Credit: Getty

Additionally, seated open-air events will be allowed to function for up to 400 people, with all music-lovers asked to keep the “necessary distance”. This phase will also introduce the reopening of cinemas and theatres at a third of capacity.

The last stage, which is being described as the “advanced” stage of the plan, will start on June 8 and will welcome the reopening of night clubs and bars, albeit at a third of their usual capacity.

These plans contradict American healthcare expert predictions that festivals and concerts will likely not return in the US until autumn 2021. 

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In a recent New York Times-hosted roundtable discussion, bioethicist and professor of healthcare management Zeke Emanuel said he had “no idea” how promoters that are rescheduling arts and music events for later this year “think that’s a plausible possibility”.

“Larger gatherings – conferences, concerts, sporting events – when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return,” Emmanuel said. “Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

Several music festivals around the world – including Governor’s Ball and the UK’s BST Hyde Park and Glastonbury – have already cancelled their 2020 events.

However, some festivals have been postponed to later in the year. These include Coachella, which pushed its April events to October, the South American editions of Lollapalooza, J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, Live at Leeds Festival and more.

Earlier this month, when discussing re-opening the American economy as a whole within the next few months, Emanuel said he was not “wildly optimistic”, as consistent, nationwide shelter-in-place policy and quicker testing practices haven’t been introduced yet.

“Restarting the economy has to be done in stages, and it does have to start with more physical distancing at a worksite that allows people who are at lower risk to come back,” he said.

“Certain kinds of construction, or manufacturing or offices, in which you can maintain six-foot distances are more reasonable to start sooner.”

Last month, the Music Venue Trust told NME that they were in need of £1 million in donations to save grassroots music spaces affected by ongoing coronavirus closures and prevent “a disaster that will last 10 years” – and called upon successful artists and the music industry at large to help.

Donations to the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund can be arranged by contacting Beverley Whitrick at beverley@musicvenuetrust.com, by calling 07809 155388, or by visiting their GoFundMe page here.

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