The Commission published on 29 June 2021 EU guidelines to ensure the safe resumption of activities in the cultural and creative sectors across the EU. At a time when the epidemiological situation is improving and vaccination campaigns are speeding up, Member States are gradually reopening cultural venues and activities. Today's guidelines aim to provide a coordinated approach in line with the specific national, regional and local conditions. They are expected to guide the design and implementation of measures and protocols in EU countries to cover both the safe reopening as well as the sustainable recovery in the cultural and creative sectors.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Culture helped people cope with the impacts of lockdowns and social distancing. It is now our turn to accompany the sectors in their path to reopening. We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities and be more prepared for future crises. The cultural and creative sectors are strong European assets and are important for Europe's sustainable recovery, increased resilience of European society, and more generally, our European way of life.”
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel said: "The cultural and creative industries and sectors have paid a heavy toll since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, the crisis highlighted their importance for our society and economy. With the increased vaccine uptake, gradual lifting of restrictions, including in the field of culture is taking place. The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of Member States' measures at EU level. Simultaneously, a safe re-opening of cultural settings should go hand in hand with a range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery and resilience of the entire sector.”
The EU guidelines are based on the expertise of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and exchanges with the Health Security Committee. They take into account the different epidemiological situations in the Member States and their evolution. They provide the indicators and criteria (such as the viral circulation, the vaccination coverage, the use of protective measures, the use of tests and contact tracing), to be taken into account when planning the resumption of certain activities.
More specifically, the guidelines recommend the following measures and protocols:
- The lifting of all restrictions should be strategic and gradual, with a restricted number of participants at the beginning to assess the epidemiological situation;
- Cultural establishments should have a preparedness plan detailing protocols of actions when COVID-19 cases are detected;
- Targeted information and/or ad-hoc training should be made available for all staff in cultural establishments to minimise risks of infection;
- Vaccination of persons working in cultural settings should be promoted to ensure their and the public's protection;
- Participants can be asked proof of negative COVID-19 test and/or vaccination and/or COVID-19 diagnosis in order to be admitted to the venue. Depending on the local circulation of variants, this requirement can be extended to fully vaccinated individuals;
- Establishments should ensure that the contact details of the audiences are available in case they are needed for contact tracing;
- The establishment should put in place targeted protective measures: maintaining social distancing whenever possible, clean and accessible hand-washing facilities, appropriate ventilation, and frequent cleaning of surfaces. The use of facemasks by attendees is an important complementary measure.
A range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery of the entire sector should accompany the reopening of cultural venues. Actions at EU level complement those taken by Member States and by the sectors.
Member States are invited to take full advantage of the Recovery and Resilience Facility to invest broadly in the sectors and increase their capacity to adapt to new trends and emerge from the crisis.
The Commission has substantially increased its financial support to the cultural and creative sectors, with almost €2.5 billion from Creative Europe, and close to €2 billion from Horizon Europe dedicated to cultural, creative and inclusive projects from 2021 to 2027.
In autumn 2021, the Commission will publish an online guide on EU funding for culture, covering all existing EU funds that Member States and the sector can use.
The wide-ranging restrictions, set in place since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to protect the health of citizens, have resulted in severe economic difficulties for a large proportion of the sectors, particularly for activities based on venues and visits as confirmed by the 2021 Annual Single Market Report. For example, cinema operators in the EU report a 70% drop in box office sales in 2020, music venues report a 76% drop in attendance (64% in revenues) and museums lost revenues up to 75-80% (in popular touristic regions). The crisis is expected to have a lasting impact on the entire value chain with collection of royalties for authors and performers also affected.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Commission has taken several measures to address the consequences of the pandemic on the creative and cultural sectors, by complementing and supporting Member States' actions. Measures range from additional flexibility in the implementation of existing programmes, and the setting-up of the Temporary Framework for state aid measures to additional funding under Creative Europe and Erasmus+ in 2020. In May 2020, the Commission also launched, in cooperation with the sector, a dedicated platform, Creatives Unite, to help artists, performers and others working in the cultural and creative sectors share information and initiatives to respond to the coronavirus crisis, and exchange ideas for a sustainable reopening.
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