It is not known when the deflation starts, but the agents linked to festivals and concerts are confident that there will be live music for thousands of people next summer and so they continue in meetings with the Government in an attempt to find the best model for the realization. of what now begins to be known as Covid-19 free “bubble festivals”. This model has been defended for several weeks by businessmen in the sector and has seen something new in recent days: the “bubble festivals” will probably be rehearsed in April in the form of several “pilot events” to be held in Lisbon and Porto, according to information collected by the Observer from the sector.
If everything goes well at the “pilot events”, and if the government and health authorities give the go-ahead, the summer festivals will really happen. The “pilot events”, or experimental, are based on what happened last year in London and Barcelona, with controlled environment concerts in which all participants were tested at the entrance.
The behavior of the spectators will then allow the health authorities to assess whether the enclosures are safe and whether the rules of physical distance that seek to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus can be lifted inside. At the same time, festival promoters will know through the “pilot events” which logistics and capacity to adopt in large-scale musical shows, that is, the festivals themselves – understood as “bubble festivals” as they are places where they only enter people with a negative Covid-19 test result, regardless of having been vaccinated, as is already the case in commercial aviation.
The date of the “pilot events” in Lisbon and Porto is dependent on the calendar that the Government will establish for the lack of definition, April being one of the hypotheses. It is not certain which rooms will host these experimental concerts, but medium-sized spaces such as Campo Pequeno, instead of large rooms such as Altice Arena, present themselves as viable, not least because the “test events” will have a very small number of people, allowing to create a mathematical model from there.
It remains to be established whether the tests to the spectators will be carried out on the spot (rapid tests) or if, as in airplane travel, only tests considered more sensitive (PCR) made up to 72 hours before are acceptable. Also undefined is the use of masks by those who tested negative and whether there will be seating or standing positions.
The conditions for resumption of live shows, in the context of restrictions in relation to Covid-19, have been discussed by a working group that began to meet by teleconference on 13 January. In addition to the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, and the Secretaries of State for Tourism and Health, the General Inspection of Cultural Activities and representatives of the spectacle sector (Association of Promoters of Shows, Festivals and Events – APEFE, Portuguese Association) have participated. Music Festivals – Aporfest; Portuguese Association of Technical Services for Events – APSTE; and Association of Shows, Agents and Portuguese Producers – AEAPP).
The most recent meeting took place on Friday, the 19th, and counted for the second time with a representative of the Directorate-General for Health. Nearby sources describe the general tone of the meetings as “dialoguing”. The next conference call is scheduled for March 4.
Contacted on Tuesday, the office of the Minister of Culture declined to comment. At the end of December, when the Observer advanced with the news of the creation of a working group on the return of the festivals, the Ministry of Culture had said that the meetings of this “dialogue platform” would serve for “anticipating scenarios” and “identifying solutions “, but” without ever neglecting “public health.
The fall in the live music sector will have been 80% in 2020, according to APEFE figures. The first confinement and postponement of all festivals, but also the capacity reduced to 50% from June and the curfew after the summer may have removed more than 1.6 billion euros from the economy. Music festivals move between two and three million people in Portugal each year and generate direct and indirect earnings of 18 billion euros, according to data from Aporfest in January. Tickets for this year are on sale on platforms online and those purchased in 2020 are still valid for 2021.