Opening commission - organizers demand a "pragmatic plan"

The announced opening commission will meet on Thursday to discuss opening steps for gastronomy, tourism, culture and sport in May. In addition to the Federal Chancellery and the Vice Chancellery, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Education as well as the State Secretariat for Culture will represent the Federal Government. The current chairmanship of the Governors' Conference, the Styrian Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer (ÖVP), the President of the Association of Cities, Vienna's Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) and the President of the Association of Municipalities, Alfred Riedl, are also part of the commission, which also includes representatives from business and employees. Representatives from the event and trade fair industry pointed out the need for a “pragmatic and resilient plan” in advance.

Outdoor before indoor

In the first step, guidelines are to be set at the start at 16 p.m., the Chancellery said to the APA. The principle of "outdoor before indoor" is to be pursued. On the basis of the guidelines, the details of the individual subject blocks (test concepts, green pass, timeline of openings) are to be worked out with the respective experts and industry representatives. The Chancellery reported that in many areas there were already concrete proposals for concepts from the industries concerned. All of these would feed into the work of the commission. However, specific opening dates are not yet to be communicated or set on Thursday.

The next day, on Friday, the meeting of the opening commission will be followed by further discussions between the government, the federal states and the opposition parties with experts on the infection process. It is still uncertain whether further concrete steps - i.e. possible loosening or tightening - will be communicated afterwards.

Organizers demand stability

Trade fair, sports and cultural organizers not only pointed to their "undisputed socio-political significance", but also to the added value of 18,17 billion euros they achieved. The event industry alone would account for 9 billion euros. Around 150.000 people are only employed in the cultural sector, "most of whom are condemned to doing nothing between short-time work and unemployment". It is emphasized that when planning the opening steps not only economic factors have to be taken into account: "It is about nothing less than the mental health of everyone", it says in the broadcast.

Christoph Klingler from CTS Eventim Austria refers to the very long lead times in the event industry and calls for "reliable planning security". The expansion of the protective screen must therefore be an essential part of the opening plan, "because the economic risk of being unlocked cannot be countered in any other way". Ewald Tatar (Barracuda Music) also calls the organizer's protective shield "an extremely important measure to support the industry most threatened by the pandemic". In contrast to many other European countries, the framework conditions for major players in the festival area are currently not financially sufficient. He assumes that Austria will orient itself towards the Dutch conditions and raise the upper limit. "That would be an incredibly important step to help an industry that creates nine billion euros in added value and is the driving force behind the ailing city tourism," said Tatar.

Organizer Georg Hoanzl also found haunting words. Economic framework conditions are now "decisive, so that the culture and event industry no longer has to depend on the state aid and returns to economic independence". The continuous locking and unlocking was quite justified until the introduction of the vaccination, "but now it is no longer the last word in wisdom". In addition to the vaccine, the event industry now needs “a good dose of stability in order to create cultural freedom again with the necessary care and in compliance with all sensible guidelines,” said Hoanzl. Harry Jenner (Frequency Festival) and Manuel Reifenauer (Electric Love) as well as trade fair organizers such as Reed Exhibitions joined the appeal. (apa)