Breaking: Germany shuts all opera and concert halls for a month

Breaking: Germany shuts all opera and concert halls for a month


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2020

Details are still being announced by the Chancellor, but here’s the first report:

“The federal and state governments want to get a grip on the drastically increasing corona infection figures with massive contact restrictions over the course of November — and this throughout Germany as early as next Monday, 2nd November. The goal: to be able to track infection chains again. At present, 75 percent of infections can no longer be traced, said Angela Merkel.
“There are further restrictions on contact. From Monday on, private meetings will only be permitted for members of one’s own household and one other household with a maximum of ten people. Tourist overnight stays within Germany are to be prohibited in November. According to this measure, trips only for non-touristic purposes such as business travel may be made.
“Events that serve entertainment purposes will be prohibited. Catering establishments are to close from November 2 for the rest of the month. The delivery and collection of food for consumption at home will be exempted from this rule, canteens will be allowed to remain open.
“Schools and kindergartens are to remain reliably open in November despite the sharp rise in Corona numbers. The same applies to wholesale and retail. According to DPA information, no more than one customer per ten square meters should be allowed to stay here.” 
UPDATE: The lockdown starts on Monday.


  • Squil says:

    Sorry not quite correct, not starting NOW but next monday ….

  • Firing Back says:

    A very sensible move.

    There’s talk of the same happening here in the UK, too – sooner, rather than later.

    As I posed to an orchestra CEO on here just the other day: And then what?
    He couldn’t answer, such was his lack of vision.

    No doubt, in the UK, the major orchestras etc will scream with their begging dishes for Arts Council England to give them yet more public money – as, again, they feign shock at, and act totally unprepared for, the inevitable lockdown.

    As I said previously, only those organisations with vision, new approaches, and probably the inspiration of new leadership will survive.

    • Andy says:

      Being forcibly closed for nearly six months, and then being forcibly closed again a few weeks after you’ve been allowed to partially re-open in a way that’s barely financially viable would finish off many businesses, vision or no vision.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        But those in cosy, secure jobs – and public servants – don’t care in the slightest about business. Money grows on trees; don’t you know?

    • SVM says:

      And what happens if, at the end of November, the infection rate in Germany is still substantial, and/or infections are still difficult to trace?

      Without a lockdown exit strategy, tightening restrictions for a month sounds more like “sooner *and* later”, as opposed to “sooner rather than later”. Inevitably, lockdowns cause enormous damage to public health (especially mental health), so there is an argument to be made for waiting until infection rates become dangerous (i.e.: so high that vulnerable people would have almost no chance of avoiding infection even if they take ‘shielding’ measures, and the medical system is under genuine threat of being overwhelmed). Lockdowns may be a useful short-term strategy, but they are becoming so protracted as to be unsustainable in every sense.

      Having said all this, I am not familiar with the situation with Germany… maybe there is evidence that these extra restrictions would make a positive difference, despite the fact that there is no hope of eliminating the virus completely. But Merkel does need to be candid with her electorate about what happens if infection rates are still high in a month’s time. Compliance is much easier to obtain when there is an end in sight, or, failing that, when there is a logical rationale for the absence of an end-date.

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        The phrase “I am not familiar with the situation with Germany” is the key. It so happens that I live in Germany. Compared to neighbors, and certainly to the States, Germany has done well controlling infections. But as restrictions were loosened and the stir-crazy population embraced social contacts, the infection rate climbed and then skyrocketed. The idea is to manage the infection rate until a vaccine is available or it’s established that one can’t be developed. If this short-term lockdown is ineffective, I’m sure we’ll see it extended.

        Sure, Markel needs to be candid. I think she has been, especially compared to the person in charge of my home country, the USA.

    • Maya says:

      What on Earth are you talking about? I’ve seen with my own eyes waiters/bartenders in crowded restaurants month ago in several European cities working without masks and large groups of drunk youth enjoying their time as if nothing happened, and immediately realized that it wasn’t going to end well. It’s the ludicrous behavior of general populace that now musicians have to pay for. Plumbers don’t give a damn about arts, they won’t lose their jobs if half of the world is dead.

    • Maria says:

      You need to be careful when you say UK but mean England or even London. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland – and culturally the whole North of England – have hardly opened up at all. They are all different countries and have very different rules and levels of virus. You can say Austria is part of Germany! Wales and Northern Ireland are in lockdown, and the North of England in a severe form of lockdown since July, unlike London and the South.

  • papageno says:

    A certain, much-hated former Chancellor of Germany would never have shut down the arts under any circumstances. Just saying.

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      He may not have shut them down but he ‘cleansed’ them of certain non german elements and at the end of his regime he had managed to destroy much of centuries of european culture and reduced Germany to a pariah state. Just saying!

    • Amos says:

      No, he would have simply murdered anyone who disagreed with his decree. A simply unconscionable comment.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Quite a bit like the modern Left, then? Killing peoples’ reputations rather than shooting them.

        • Amos says:

          Sorry but genocide, even by one of your favorites, is never excusable or comparable to anything.

        • Enough already says:

          Sue outdoes herself: The „modern Left“ is like…Hitler. Boo

        • Mr. Knowitall says:

          When Sue embraced Joseph McCarthy I thought she had reached her personal limit of reflexive hatred of liberalism. I never imagined that she would join Team Hitler. What’s gone wrong with this woman’s soul?

    • Geezer says:

      You mean Adolf! I thought he shot himself in his bunker in 1945. One thing going for him is he did not like “wrong note” music. He banned it.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Do you mean Helmut Kohl?

    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      In which you are very much mistaken, if you refer to Adolf Nazi (as Helmut Schmidt used to call him).

      He actually did shut down ‘the arts’, together with much else.

      His devoted mouthpiece Goebbels ordered on August 24, 1944, that by September 1, all theater and concert venues were to shut down. All public cultural activity was terminated.
      Venues were handed out “Stillegungverfügungen”, literally Orders of Cessation.
      A number of activities, such as the Salzburg festival, had been shuttered at Schicklgrubers’s direct behest as early as March 1943.

      The whole scuttling operation was trumpeted as “Totaler Kriegseinsatz der Kulturschaffenden”, Total War Effort of Cultural Creators. Which meant: join the mincemeat unless you belong to the “Gottbegnadeten” list of ‘indispensable’ artists cobbled together by Dr. Klumpfuß and his boss.

      But yes, Gröfaz was perfectly willing to sacrifice everything and everyone. Except, until the very end, himself.

    • Manuela Hoelterhoff says:

      Theaters were closed after the failed assassination on July 20, 1944 and Goebbels declared total war.

    • Miko says:

      Norman, I cannot believe you allow a comment like this to stand on your blog. Shameful.

    • psq says:

      I am surprised no one has mentioned yet that certain groups of artist, musical or otherwise, and their works were labelled Entartete Kunst. Their works were banned from being played or confiscated. The opportunists of the inner circle of the Führer actually grabbed some of these decadent arts which they thought would worth a fortune in time of peace Pax Germania.

      Do we need to go into book burning?

  • Dander says:

    Covid-19 in Der Vaterland has not gone away at all. Despite them having test, track n trace it is showing a steady rise as the Koch institute data confirm.

    • Doom and Gloom says:

      Eh, it’s probably Trump’s fault…

    • Amos says:

      Yes, due to the refusal of the population to wear masks and practice social distancing. Why is it so difficult to understand that testing is necessary but not sufficient in combating COVID and is only useful in conjunction with the behavior proven efficacious. The choice isn’t to hide under your bed or behave as if we are living in a pre-COVID world. If everyone followed public health guidelines life would be more open until a vaccine is available.

      • SVM says:

        Most projects to develop a vaccine end in failure — that is just the nature of scientific experimentation generally. And many successful vaccines afford only partial protection against the disease they target. The process of developing a vaccine requires a lot of longitudinal studies with large cohorts to ascertain whether there are any dangerous side-effects, some of which may take years to become apparent. So, a safe and effective vaccine is likely to take well over a decade to develop. Yes, there are some promising candidates (e.g.: Sputnik-V), but it would be madness to offer them at scale to the general population so soon (at this juncture, for an average person in good health, taking *any* experimental COVID-19 vaccine would probably be more dangerous than getting COVID-19).

        We cannot live in this state of siege for another decade! Our best bet is to focus on finding ways to enable the vulnerable to shield, rather than persist with an unsustainable attempt to essentially shield the whole population, which is bound to fail.

        • Amos says:

          First, Sputnik-V is a putin propaganda fraud. Second, multiple vaccines in the real world have already been shown to induce virus-reactive immune responses. Suggesting the time frame is a decade for efficacy is disinformation.

    • Heini says:

      It’s das Vaterland, in dem Vaterland.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      in dem Vaterland.

    • Enough already says:

      It‘s Das Vaterland. check your foreign languages if you want to be clever

  • Ben Legebeke says:

    What is so special about it? In Holland we have this cultural shut-down situation already for a month….

    • Maya says:

      Because people pretend they never heard about public health guidelines.I’ve been to Holland a month ago, it’s a joke, no wonder they were forced to close. So I guess what’s special about it is that politicians didn’t expect their constituents to be so downright dumb.

  • Gustavo says:

    Merkel herself is a keen opera goer.

    We’re all sitting in the same boat – as they say in Germany.

  • Eli says:

    Basically what they mean is that no concerts until Jan 2021. Let’s just make it easier and let people free of the agony of continuous news bait.

  • Fernandel says:

    The riskiest thing Angela Merkel has ever done was climbing the stairs without holding handrail.

    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      The riskiest thing Angela Merkel has done was to allow the entry of nearly nine hundred thousand Syrian refugees in 2015.
      At a time when the rest of Europe was perfectly ready to let thousands die.

      We don’t know yet how this will work out. The humanitarian gesture may yet turn out to be a social, hence political, time bomb.
      Merkel already paid a price for taking this risk. Her party had huge losses.
      She was forced to relinquish its leadership. The worst of it may yet come.
      But she took willingly one of the greatest risks a peacetime chancellor has ever taken.

      So kindly get back to the invention of M. Follavoine.

  • Gustavo says:

    Just in time for families to gather around Amazon prime to analyse Borat 2 and the US electiions.

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    Another free month”s extension for Digital Concert Hall subscribers?

  • Jason says:

    Do you have a link to the original article?

  • Matthias says:

    Austria probably won’t be far behind…

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      Everywhere is now waiting in line. Those that never even got to open will now not be alone in the cultural desert we are about to enter again and rather like the cast of the Exterminating Angel will find our way out somewhat problematic.

    • McBreen says:

      Yes the Hills are alive with the sound of music!

      Glad I am in the land of Leprechauns, Dave Allen and Father Ted! You could not make it up.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The disease is having the last laugh!!! “Imagine thinking you can lock me out”!!

  • Papageno says:

    “Events that serve entertainment purposes will be prohibited…” That ought to exclude classical concerts and operas, for to many people they’re essential nourishment and chicken soup for the soul, Not ‘entertainment’.

    • Garech de Brun says:

      Concerts are not substitutes for Mass, Sung Eucharist, Holy Communion, Matins, Evensong etc, they are mere entertainment. You have to pay to attend concerts, hence it is entertainment.

      Only music for the church is not.

  • SVM says:

    “Events that serve entertainment purposes will be prohibited.”

    Many musicians would argue, and rightly so, that their events are *not* to “serve entertainment purposes”. But presumably, the intent of the announcement is that classical music is within scope of the activities being restricted? Does anyone know where the original German can be found?

  • McBreen says:

    German and German speaking composers dominated classical music for centuries until the end of the 19th century. Post 1900 it all went completely to pot, the centre of gravity shifted and fragmented, partly due to two disastrous world wars, partly due to changing tastes, lifestyles, the world of deference ended, no more Court composers, people gradually stopped making music at home, they stopped attending church services, they listened to the wireless, records, some went to concerts to hear music composed 100 or 200 years earlier.

    Now in 2020 who is composing anything at all anywhere worth a second listen and which will be performed 100, 200 or even 300 years hence. Mike Oldfield’s classic Tubular Bells will probably, no wonder they chose it for the soundtrack to the Exorcist!