A number of festivals including Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz, the Netherlands’ Lowlands and the UK’s Reading and Leeds have lost international bookings due to Covid restrictions surrounding travel and vaccinations.
Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) announced last Friday (2 July) that it had been forced to drop four UK-based artists – Rag’n’Bone Man, Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio – from its July programme because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.
Switzerland’s current Covid-19 rules state that from 26 June, travellers from outside the Schengen zone (the free movement area in the EU), including Brits, will only be allowed to enter the country if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.
In a statement on 25 June, the organisers said they were trying to ensure that the concerts of the other UK artists would go ahead, despite concerns about Britain’s surge in the Delta strain of the Covid virus.
“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.
The four UK artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, French artist Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression. Ticket holders of the original concerts may request a refund.
“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status, as well as their ability to quarantine”
Dutch festival A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise is in a similar position.
The festival, promoted by Live Nation’s Mojo, announced a slate of heavy-hitting international artists for its 2021 August long-weekender, but due to “ever-changing corona regulations both inside and outside Europe,” a number of them have been forced to pull out.
American rapper Denzel Curry, Canadian record producer Kaytranada, British bands Bring Me The Horizon and Metronomy, and Jamaican singer Koffee will no longer be performing at Lowlands 2021.
The Netherlands is currently adhering to the EU entry ban that prevents those who have not been fully vaccinated from entering the EU or the Schengen area. Residents from any of the 22 countries that have been deemed a ‘high-risk area due to the presence of a variant of concern’ may not enter the EU regardless of vaccination status.
Fortunately, professionals in the cultural and creative sector are exempt from these restrictions, though quarantining on arrival is mandatory – adding 5–10 days to an artist’s trip to the Netherlands and other EU countries.
“Due to ever-changing corona regulations both inside and outside Europe, international touring is much more complicated than usual,” the organisers wrote on the festival’s website. “This entails great risks and uncertainties for acts – resulting in unavoidable cancellations.”
“Due to ever-changing corona regulations both inside and outside Europe, int’l touring is much more complicated than usual”
International acts including Machine Gun Kelly, Stormzy, Rag’n’Bone Man, Django Django, Sam Fender, Metronomy, Mahalia, Black Country New Road, Headie One, Liam Gallagher, the Chemical Brothers, Slowthai and Arlo Parks are still scheduled to perform at the time of writing. See the full line-up here.
Elsewhere, while many UK festivals played it safe and announced domestic line-ups, Festival Republic forged ahead with an international bill for Reading & Leeds, due to take place in August.
However, soon after the first wave of artists were announced, four US-based acts – Charli XCX, Doja Cat, 100 gecs and DaBaby – were forced to drop out of performing “due to circumstances out of the artists’ control”.
Anyone travelling to England from outside the UK is currently required to take Covid-19 tests and quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days – a hindrance that the live industry has repeatedly disputed.
Adam Gregory, festival director at Bloodstock Open Air, one of the small percentage of UK festivals still going ahead, told IQ that the quarantine period for artists is “something that needs immediately addressing so that we can again start planning for 2021 and 2022”.
Other festivals that have been hampered by international travel restrictions include Serbia’s Arsenal Sound, which lost Placebo and Gogol Bordello, and Bulgaria’s Music Daze, which lost headliners Asian Dub Foundation at the last minute.
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