Salzburg Festival: General obligation to wear a facemask, except when seated during a performance

Coronavirus is the greatest challenge our society has faced since the end of World War II. Never before has cultural life in democratic countries been curtailed so severely in peacetime. The Salzburg Festival was founded at a time of abject misery as a courageous project against the crisis. Max Reinhardt was convinced that only the arts could reconcile the people, even peoples, whom war had driven into battle against one another.


Lukas Crepaz,Helga Rabl-Stadler and Markus Hinterhäuser, Photo SF

Art not as decoration, but as the food and meaning of life. The fact that the Festival can now take place in a modified and abbreviated form between 1 and 30 August makes this founding consideration – art as the food and meaning of life – appear more topical than ever.

Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler: ‘I did not doubt for one minute that we would perform this summer. Nikolaus Harnoncourt was convinced: “When we, the artists, are good, people leave the performance different than when they arrived.” – That is the very experience we wish to give our visitors this year, as every year.’

‘In times governed by a certain lack of orientation, the Festival made decisions which will hopefully turn out to be the right ones in retrospect. The fact that we waited to decide whether there would be a Festival was a mixture of hope, dreaming and perhaps also intuition that the pandemic’s case numbers might move in a direction which enabled people to assemble again. For that and nothing else is what a festival is about. During the past weeks, we have seen that people’s longing for such assemblies has become overwhelming. Even the virtual offerings and streams cannot quench this sense of longing, lacking any aura of art. We will experience a Festival this year that is different. We will experience a Festival with significantly fewer events, with significantly fewer available tickets, and therefore with fewer visitors. And it will be a Festival which conforms with each and every security requirement,’ says Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser.

’Great as the joy of enabling shared experiences of art at the Salzburg Festival is, the health of all those involved takes precedence. Therefore, we will of course comply painstakingly with all the regulations passed by the federal government, but we will extend and exceed them if we consider it necessary, given our responsibility. In times of coronavirus, the Festival must and wants to set standards in matters of security as well,’ Executive Director Lukas Crepaz declared.

The Salzburg Festival has modified its programme under this aspect as well, reducing the number of performance venues from 16 to 8. The organization has developed a prevention concept which is currently being coordinated with the Festival’s council of experts and the authorities. It will be adapted continuously to accommodate any new developments.

The following members serve on the Festival’s council of experts:

Prim. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Uta Hoppe – Head of Internal Medicine II of the Paracelsus University of Medicine, Cardiology and Internistic Intensive Care with A&E Prim. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Studnicka – Head of Pneumology at the Salzburg University Hospital Priv.-Doz. Dr. Markus Hell – Specialist in Clinical Microbiology and Hygiene, Medilab Salzburg OA Dr. Bodo Kirchner – Specialist in Internal Medicine, Hygiene Commissioner of the Salzburg Emergency Hospital, also chairman of the Association of Theatre and Festival Doctors Dr. Josef Schlömicher-Thier – Specialist in ENT and occupational physician of the Salzburg Festival

Key Points of the Security and Prevention Plan (as of 8 June 2020)

Modified and significantly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Salzburg Festival will take place in compliance with the measures decreed by the federal government and additional, self-imposed security measures. The prevention plan will continuously be coordinated with the council of experts named above and the authorities, and will be adapted to any new developments. Current key points of the prevention plan for audience and staff are as follows:


• General obligation to wear a facemask, except when seated during a performance
• Active audience guiding to support compliance with the 1-metre distancing rule: among other measures, the venues will be divided into sectors
• In order to avoid larger agglomerations of people and thereby minimize the risk of infection, there will be a significant reduction in performance venues and events; instead of the 16 venues originally planned, there will now be 8.
• a separation of admittance and egress. Unlike regular Festival summer practice, there will be no simultaneous events in the Festspielhäuser, in order to prevent groups of visitors from meeting.
• no intervals and no catering as a general rule. Since controlling queues outside of bars or toilets would be very difficult, there will be no refreshments. This means that all the bars at the Festival’s venues will be closed, including before and after events.
• Personalized tickets, enabling authorities to speed up contact tracing. Ticket purchasers must show ID to the ticket-takers without being requested to do so.
• Special measures of hygiene: these include disinfection stations at all points of entry and at neuralgic points, frequent cleaning of contact surfaces etc.
• Significant reduction of seating, in keeping with distancing rules: as a matter of principle, these are arranged in a chequerboard pattern. In areas with more than 1 metre distance to the seats behind them, other forms of seating allocation are being examined. The audience will be informed via all the Salzburg Festival’s channels in detail and in due time before the Festival opens about the security measures then current and in place.

Artists / Staff

• Significant modification and reduction of the rehearsal and performance schedule and the artistic and technical operations of the 2020 Salzburg Festival
• Obligatory initial testing and submission of a certificate of health for all artists and temporary staff, dated no more than 4 days before they begin their work
• Obligatory hygiene regulations and rules on wearing facemasks
• Division into three groups with corresponding additional prevention measures:

Red Group

• Stage performers who cannot comply with distancing rules and cannot wear facemasks PCR screening Health log Hygiene rules Behaviour rules

Orange Group

• Artists who can practice distancing in principle
• Staff in contact with red group who can wear facemasks Initial testing Health log Temporary facemasks in keeping with prevention plan Hygiene rules Behaviour rules

Yellow Group

Staff who can practice distancing at all times Initial testing Temporary facemasks in keeping with prevention plan Hygiene rules Behaviour rules. (After Press Materials)

Marjan Zlobec

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