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Here’s How European Countries Are Returning To Mass Events During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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It has been over a year since a major international music festival was held in Malta, and with the nation racing ahead of other European countries in its vaccination campaign, it begs the question – when will we get our next fix of live music?

While Malta has a few festivals in the pipeline for summer, nothing has been confirmed as of yet and Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has not offered his blessing for mass activities to take place.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Spain have all laid out a roadmap for the return of festivals, starting with large-scale trial concerts to determine the viability of holding mass events during the pandemic. 

The most recent success story involves a 5,000 person indoor trial concert in Barcelona held a month ago where participants were screened and tested for coronavirus using antigen tests. 

The crowd was also instructed to wear masks and organisers limited bathroom capacity.

5,000 people attended a concert in Barcelona last month

5,000 people attended a concert in Barcelona last month

The result? Only six people tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks later with medical authorities concluding that transmission of four of the six cases “did not take place during the concert”.

Moreover, the Netherlands conducted a similar experiment the week before, with fans attending a two-day music festival after showing proof of a negative Covid test. 

A total of 1,500 festival-goers attended the multi-stage festival with preliminary data suggesting that less than one percent of attendees tested positive for Covid-19 following the event.

Preliminary data suggested that less than one percent of attendees tested positive for Covid-19

Preliminary data suggested that less than one percent of attendees tested positive for Covid-19

On the other side of the world, Australia has marched on like the pandemic never existed with the first large-scale concert taking place last November.

In March, Tame Impala played a pair of sold-out concerts in Perth with the 2,000 capacity venue packed with non-masked attendees. 

The situation proves starkly different in the United States where, despite the CDC’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors, large-scale festivals are still being cancelled. 

Most notably, the highly popular arts festival Burning Man has been cancelled once again.

“Although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to do so in the time we have,” the festival said in a statement.

 

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A post shared by Burning Man Project (@burningman)

Earlier today, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo confirmed that discussions were being held on whether a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ system should be introduced to give people certain rights if they can prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The idea was first brought up by the Malta Entertainment and Arts Association which suggested that domestic vaccine passports could be an option that allows small-scale events to return. 

New PN politician Julie Zahra, a former singer, also backed this proposal, saying she is “100% in favour” of any proposal that could see the events industry get back on track.

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Jose Herrera was accused of belittling artists who were left devastated by pandemic lockdowns after saying that “the majority of artists are not business-minded”.

READ NEXT: WATCH: 'If You Don't Leave, You're Stuck Here', Gaia Cauchi Reveals Hardships Of Being A Musician In Malta During Covid

When JP's not too busy working on polyrhythmic beats, you'll probably find him out and about walking his dog.

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