On Thursday Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said it was inconceivable to hold mass public events until at least the end of June. This news did not come as a surprise to event organizers across the country.
Organizers told ERR they are ready to make difficult decisions, but they admit that instead of refunding the ticket money, they would prefer to offer experiences for the later in the year.
The head of the Rakvere police department, Katrin Sats, was recently asked to approve the security plan for the Võsu Beach Festival in July. The festival, which expects almost 10,000 visitors, has not yet received the green light.
"If the situation improves, the restrictions are lifted and it becomes clear how and under what conditions events will be allowed to be organized in the summer of 2020, we will discuss these coordination issues further," Satsi told Vikerraadio.
Speaking at a government press conference on Thursday about whether public events planned for the summer can take place, Ratas said a concrete answer will be given in the coming days. "The feeling of the government is that in the coming months, when we talk about May and June, it is not conceivable to hold big events," he said.
Minister of Finance Martin Helme added that it is more difficult to make decisions in the second half of the summer. He said the starting point should be that as long as no one had said these events can go ahead, it must be assumed that they will not.
There is no decision yet on the Pühajärve midsummer fire
Tanel Samm, the manager of OÜ Monster Music, has already announced the cancellation of the Haapsalu Italian Music Festival, which is planned for June 6. But he has made no concrete decision yet about the big summer event, Pühajärve Midsummer (Pühajärve jaanitul) in Ötepaa on June 22, but Samm is not optimistic.
"The idea of an entertainment event is to entertain, not to have a party in fear. The party must be held in the advertised form and with the program when the time is right," Samm discussed. "And we see that this can't happen until 2021 at the earliest."
The flagship of Estonian heavy music Hard Rock Laager should take place at the start of July. The main organizer of the event, Kaido Haavandi, is cautiously optimistic, but at the same time acknowledges that the decision cannot be delayed any longer.
"Before May, all the bands should be booked and advertising the festival should begin. If we decide to move forward with the current plans, we will start creating expenses that can no longer be postponed to next year's event," said Haavandi.
Haavandi added that if this year's festival is canceled, visitors can be reimbursed but, at the same time,, they will be reminded that if they reclaim their money it will make it more difficult to organize a new festival so they could claim a credit note instead. "We hope people will take it rather than prepay and buy an early ticket for the next dates instead," Haavandi said.
Tanel Samm also hopes visitors will be understanding of the situation. Just as ticket holders paid in advance to the concert organizer, the organizer paid in advance to foreign performers. "Contracts do not regulate today's situation very much. It seems to be the case that foreign artists working for our company are offering an alternative date instead of a refund. And that is what we intend to do for our visitors," said Samm.
Club Tartu Marathon conducts virtual competitions
Difficult decisions also await those who organize major sporting events. The Tartu Marathon Club was even somewhat ahead of its time. Already a month ago, the head of the club Indrek Kelk announced the Tartu Forest Marathon planned for May 10 will take place in a different format this year.
Kelk said when organizing big national sports evens you need to plan ahead. Although the coronavirus is new to everyone, marathon organizers have a little more experience preparing for crises. "And we are always thinking about how to be ready for a darker scenario, but always hope for the best," said Kelk.
This time the marathon is planned to be organized as a virtual run. Although the cross-country trail is marked, all participants can choose their own trail. The club asks you to record the running distance and time on a smart device to show that the race was completed. For its part, the club offers a virtual start number and although the winner will not be announced, the participant's name will be written in the history annals.
"And once they have uploaded their results, they can also get a virtual diploma, and we will finally send them one of the most tangible things - the Tartu Forest Marathon Medal," Kelk promised.
There is no official decision on this yet, but according to Kelk, the next marathon club competition will take place virtually, which will be the Tartu bicycle rally planned for May 31. On Wednesday, the International Cycling Federation banned international competitions until July 1. So the organizer doesn't have a choice.
The club has communicated with both the city of Tartu and the Ministry of Culture, and Kelk believes that they will not be left alone. "We have already received the first real help today. This wage support measure received through the Unemployment Insurance Fund is also a great help to us, and we have been able to pay out March salaries," said Kelk. "We hope to do this in April and look ahead step by step."
Editor: Helen Wright