As restrictions on public events and capacity limits are set to enter into force the upcoming week, event organizers are faced with uncertainty and legal issues.
On August 5, a rock opera called "Johnny" will premiere at the Tartu Song Festival Grounds, an event main producer Mihkel Truman said has been 1.5 years in the making. They made a decision about the audience limit in the summer: 3,000 people will be allowed entry for the show.
The government however decided last week that events that do not check for spectators' vaccinations, recovery or negative test results, can only allow 500 people for indoor events and 1,500 people for outdoor events, starting August 2.
Now organizers must come up with a way to either reduce the number of spectators or begin asking for proof of vaccination, recovery or negative testing. While the first option would mean major losses financially, the organizers are faced with legal issues for the second option.
"We can ask for a certificate, but there is no legal basis for the person to have to show it," Truman explained about the complicated situation organizers are in. "Currently, concert organizers have been tasked with something that is out of their competence. Until there is no nationwide emergency situation, there is no legal foundation for us to ask for a person's health status, since this is confidential personal data."
Truman noted that people who have purchased tickets have signed a purchase agreement with the organizers and there is no cancellation right if the visitor refuses to show a certificate.
The only source of income for such events is ticket revenue, which in turn factors into the event organization and wages for workers at the event.
Truman said that while the government has promised to announce restrictions two weeks in advance, that does not help organizers. "Unfortunately, you cannot organize an event in two weeks, neither a festival or production. This two weeks does not actually help anyone," he said.
The event organizer said the state should find options to allow for events to be held safely. He also noted that a solution must be found for the problem of covering the costs of mass testing at the gates. For "Johnny", testing would cost €30,000 per show, but a decision should be made on who would have to cover the cost.
"I am not at all opposed to it, I am ready to do it and check, but the question is financial - it is an expensive process to just do it," Truman said.
"We do not want anyone to get sick or for things to end up even worse," he added. "It is still in our interest for people to feel safe, for them to feel good and for everyone to leave healthy."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste