Yesterday, the government presented several facilitations for the culture and nightlife industry. The national liquor ban was lifted and the number of allowed spectators indoors was quadrupled.
Nevertheless, the cultural industry is not satisfied and demands further relief.
– 200 may seem like a lot to some. But in the field of culture, there are 200 to maintain the stranglehold we have lived under for so long, says actress Karoline Krüger.
At the beginning of December, she stood in front of a packed hall at the Folketeateret as Donna in Mamma Mia. On December 8, they had to close down and even with new relief, it will not be proportionate to open up.
– It is enormously frustrating to see that everyone else once again runs ahead. The support schemes do not work, says Krüger.
– It is not correct
Mamma Mia is set up by the production company Scene Kvelder. By the end of January, they will have lost around NOK 56 million since December alone.
“People are both frustrated that the support schemes do not work, but also that they are not met with the seriousness we, as one of the country’s largest industries, actually deserve,” says Krüger.
The absence of ticket revenues and bar sales makes it difficult for several of the largest cultural players to stay open.
– It is unfair that it is the cultural industry that should take the brunt so that the hospitals are not burdened. It’s not right, says Karianne Jæger, producer in Scenekvelder to TV 2.
May have long-term consequences
The industry itself has carried out studies that show that so far there has been little infection in the major cultural arenas around the country.
– No one can report that anything indicates that the cultural arenas can represent a great danger of infection in Norway, says Jæger.
She fears that the closure could have major long-term consequences for the entire industry.
– We have over 350 employees in this production and lose millions of kroner for every day that passes. But this is more serious for the cultural industry as a whole and the big picture. It will be a long-term challenge to convince the public to come back, says Jæger.
Considering opening up to more
Gry Haugsbakken, State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality, is happy that on Thursday they were able to ease a little on the measures that hit the industry hardest.
– There are still very strict rules in large parts of society, but we have fortunately been able to open from 50 to 200, says Haugsbakken.
The decision to allow only 200 spectators, even where there are fixed seats and it is possible to keep a distance of one meter, has been made in line with advice from the health authorities.
– We base ourselves on the advice we receive and there they are clear that we can do 200 now. We try to see that we can open up more quickly, but you need that distance and the more you have inside a room, the more contagious it is, says Haugsbakken.
The ministry is now looking at a solution where you can have more spectators in larger premises. The new scheme may be ready as early as next week.
– We have to do it gradually, now we took one step yesterday and hopefully we can go even further next week. The moment we can open up for more, we do it, says Haugsbakken.
Problematic to gather indoors
Assistant director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Rostrup Nakstad praises the cultural industry’s efforts so far in the pandemic. However, he emphasizes that there is a risk of infection associated with large cultural events.
– The more people who are present, the greater the risk of the spread of infection. It is well documented that the infection pressure is high indoors, says Nakstad.
In their assessment, both FHI and the Norwegian Directorate of Health recommended that there should be a maximum of 200 guests at indoor events.
– Why can there be thousands gathered in a shopping center, but no more than two hundred in a theater hall?
– Much of this is not entirely logical. It has to do with how we prioritize. It is important to put children and young people first and then the business community. People must be able to buy goods in a society, says Nakstad.
He does not rule out that there may be room to allow more spectators eventually.