Anti-covid measures: performing arts in Europe

(updated on Thursday, November 5, 2020)


Germany: closure of cultural institutions until 30 November 2020

Germany is now facing a significant increase in Covid-19 cases. Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday 28th October a partial lockdown implying notably the closure of cultural institutions. These measures valid for the whole country apply from Monday 2 November until at least 30 November 2020.

From the Deutsche Oper Berlin to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, many prestigious theatres are affected by these measures with major consequences. Munchenmusik has announced the cancellation of its concerts until the end of January 2021 (and the postponement of some), evoking in particular the current impossibility of planning events in a “serious” manner. At the same time, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden announced the cancellation of its performances until the end of December.


Belgium: cultural events “on pause

On 26 October last, we learned of the “pause” of cultural events until 19 November 2020 in Brussels and the Brussels-Capital Region. At the same time, the city of Liège, in Wallonia, announced the closure of its theatres and opera houses “until further notice”. The situation has changed somewhat since then, with the Belgian Prime Minister announcing on 30 October last year a lockdown period of at least six weeks, applied uniformly throughout the country.

These measures affect in particular the major cultural institutions such as the Royal Opera of Wallonia in Liège and the Monnaie de Bruxelles, which announced the “forced cancellation” of most of its performances in November but also in December: “We are indeed afraid that the current measures will be extended beyond 19 November, but above all the ban on preventive tests in the cultural sector (…) no longer allows us to work on our productions following our own particularly strict health protocols. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the health and safety of our artists and collaborators and we must, for the time being, resign ourselves to not starting new rehearsals.”



Italy: closure of theatres until 24 November 2020

Like many countries in Europe, Italy is facing a major increase in Covid-19 cases. Giuseppe Conte, the Italian Prime Minister announced on 26 October last that theatres (and outdoor shows) will be closed until 24 November 2020.

In spite of the appeal by the great Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, the executive maintains its decision evoking “painful choices”. Giuseppe Conte assures that he will work with the Minister of Culture on a reopening “as soon as possible”. These measures affect many prestigious venues such as the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Teatro Massimo di Palermo and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, forced to close temporarily.


Spain: closure of theatres and concert venues in Catalonia

In Spain, a national curfew has been imposed for several weeks from 11pm to 6am. Nevertheless, each region applies its restrictive measures. For example, Catalonia decided last Friday 30 October to close all cinemas, theatres and concert venues. In the late afternoon, workers in the cultural sector mobilised in the streets against these new measures, which affect in particular the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.



Austria: cultural institutions closed until the end of November

Austria is currently facing an explosion in the number of Covid-19 cases. On Saturday 31st October last, the Austrian government was also forced to announce a new lockdown coupled with a curfew involving the closure of cultural institutions. This confinement applies from Tuesday 3 November until the end of November.

A few days ago, Dmitri Chernikov’s Eugen Onegin sounded at the Wiener Staatsoper before the temporary closure of the Vienna State Opera.


Switzerland: national lockdown, additional measures in Geneva

While the cantonal authorities have decided on light lockdown, some cantons have opted for additional measures. While cultural venues in Valais and Bern have been closed since Thursday 22 October, the city of Geneva announced on Sunday that it would go beyond the national restrictions by closing bars, restaurants and non-essential shops (including cultural institutions).

In Zurich, the Opernhaus Zurich is temporarily closed: “We have no choice but to suspend activities and request partial unemployment (…)”.



England: lockdown until 2 December

While restrictions are increasing in Europe, last Saturday 31 October, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new lockdown in England from 5 November to 2 December. The Barbican Center in London, which has been particularly affected by these measures, is closed until further notice.


Photos : Teatro La Fenice © DR / Shutterstock ; Gran Teatre del Liceu ©  DR / Site officiel ; Théâtre de la Monnaie ©  Florence. L ( ;  Barbican Center © Shutterstock