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Restaurant relaxation also possible for cultural businesses?

30.05.2020 | 16:38 Clock | Culture

Since a few days there are new relaxations for the gastronomy. The elimination of the 5sqm rule is of course still not enough. For many smaller businesses, the situation is still far from ideal. But it was definitely an important, but not too risky step towards (new) normality. And now the question arises: Can the path taken for the gastronomy sector also be transferred to other areas? Ina Hartwig, the head of the culture department of the city of Frankfurt am Main, is committed to considering this. She has welcomed the moderate relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions for the restaurant industry, but is calling on the Hessian state government to consider transferring the relaxation to cultural establishments as well.

Hartwig referred in making her demand to the new regulation in Austria, which now stipulates "either one metre distance or one seat free" for cultural events indoors and outdoors, the latter with a mask requirement. "The Hessian special path with a restriction to one person per five square metres makes it considerably more difficult for many cultural institutions to resume even a limited emergency operation. Small theaters, for example, cannot open at all under such conditions. Because with a maximum of eight or twelve spectators, no theatre operation can be sensibly financed or responsibly subsidised. It would therefore be desirable that the state government examines the transfer of what is now possible for restaurants, also to cultural enterprises," said the head of culture.

Even for small houses such as the theater Alte Brücke in Sachsenhausen, the cult theater Die Schmiere or the Stalburg Theater in the Nordend, but also for the art house cinemas of our city, a resumption of operations under the current regulations is not conceivable. And with every week that passes, the existence of currently closed cultural venues is more and more endangered. Of course, there must be no opening at any price. But if our diverse cultural landscape is to continue to exist, there must be new, flexible concepts.

Since Hartwig referred to the path that Austria is taking, it is of course necessary here to look at the concept that applies there: provided that it is a matter of permanently allocated seats, usually seats, cultural events with 100 spectators are permitted in Austria from 29. Cultural events with 100 spectators are permitted in Austria from 29 May, with 250 spectators from 1 July, and with up to 500 or 1000 spectators from 1 August, subject to approval by the district administrative authorities. Open-air events can be scheduled from July already for 500 spectators, from 1 August for 750, with special permission for 1250 spectators.

"I would like to see the state government in Hesse consider a transfer of such models to give the cultural creators at least a little more room for maneuver in this situation", said Hartwig. Especially cultural events in the open air should experience a relaxation of the distance and hygiene rules, for these currently still apply the same regulations as for enclosed spaces. "This would be especially important for festivals that do not sell tickets, which is why they are currently not entitled to the state's cancellation payments. A relaxation of the regulations would make it easier to operate," the culture director explained.

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