Theatres will continue following their “protocols” come July 5 when mass events resume, but artists say they are still in the dark over what exactly they are permitted to do.

The government announced on Friday that seated mass events will resume on July 5 for those who are fully vaccinated.

Capacity is capped at 100 people at first, going up gradually to 200 over the course of four weeks. Events can be held both indoors and outdoors but in an enclosed area that allows organisers to control people’s entry and exit.

The news came as something of a shock to those in theatre as they were left unsure whether the new rules applied to them – theatres have already reopened on June 7 under different restrictions to those announced on Friday.

A health ministry spokesperson told Times of Malta that “theatres will continue following their protocols”.

Sources in the industry, however, said the biggest concern was establishing what is considered a “theatre”. While the authorities may be looking at traditional settings such as the Manoel Theatre and Spazju Kreattiv, there is no official list of licenced venues.

In a post on Facebook late on Saturday, singer Ira Losco said that a demonstration "Responsible, sustainable and controlled reopening for all" will be held by the Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) shortly.

The aim is to safeguard the equal rights of all professionals in the industry without hindering their livelihood.

"Given the current restrictions, MEIA wants to ensure that everything is done safely and legally."

A social media campaign, she said, will start on Monday with many individuals working in the industry sharing their experiences and encouraging awareness about the realities of a profession that "is still not given the respect it deserves".

"This will be a collective national effort to address a number of issues to reopen our sectors to everyone in a responsible, sustainable & controlled way," Losco said.

Speaking about the current protocols, one artist told Times of Malta: “The distinction they’re using in practice is whether the place is regularly used for theatre, but this is a really unreliable criterion.”

Another questioned how the authorities would enforce the new rules, especially as more events start to be held.

Why is a PCR test accepted to travel but not to attend a play?

As a result of the uncertainty, those planning summer productions are scrambling to find a venue that is already recognised as a theatre.

Other questions remain: “What about the vaccine certificates? Right now, we don’t have to ask for them. Will this be a requirement from July? We just don’t know anything and it makes planning very difficult,” one producer said.

Contacted for comment, theatre director and Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) vice-president Toni Attard said the situation was “surreal”.

“We are in the same situation as last year, with limited capacities, even though we have the vaccine. The issues at hand are also discriminatory because while weddings can have 300 people outside, arts events are capped at a 100,” Attard said.

The theatre director also criticised the authorities for sending “mixed messages” that resulted in people thinking the industry is of higher risk than other activities.

“Why is a PCR test accepted to travel but not to attend a play? People think we’re high risk but what is this based on?” Attard asked.

The authorities, he said, needed to start providing long-term plans, especially since productions take months to come together and time and money are invested well ahead of the staging of a performance.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Party has criticised plans to gradually restart social events from July 5 with limited capacities, saying the measures are of no help to the entertainment sector. 

The measures “make no financial sense for artists or stakeholders”, PN MP Karl Gouder said. 

“The PN believes that with the number of vaccinated people rising and with strict controls on who is allowed to enter the country, a balance concerning the number of people attending activities that protects people’s health while also helping artists could have been achieved,” he added.


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