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Events industry calls for mandatory Covid pass at all venues

The events industry says that current patchwork coronavirus restrictions by regional authorities are confusing, and that the Covid pass should be quickly introduced throughout the country.

Elokuvateatterin yleisö katsoo valkokankaalla olevaa koronapassia.
A Covid pass is required at Finnkino cinemas in Turku and Pori, and beginning on Friday in Oulu as well. Image: Rea Lemström / Yle
Yle News

With coronavirus infection rates rising, organisers of cultural events are once again worried about how to survive.

According to Maria Sahlstedt, director of communications at the Event Industry Association, there is strong support for requiring the Covid pass (officially the EU Digital Covid Certificate) at all public events throughout the sector.

"Especially now that the pandemic situation is worsening and the number of infections is rising, there is clearly a need for the Covid pass," she said.

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Tapahtumateollisuus ry:n johtaja Maria Sahlstedt
Maria Sahlstedt, director of communications at the Event Industry Association, says there is strong support for the Covid pass throughout the sector. Image: Jukka Salminen

By displaying the Covid pass, a customer proves full vaccination coverage, a recent negative test result, or recovery from the disease within the required time limit.

According to Sahlsted, current coronavirus restrictions are confusing, and customers no longer know where the Covid pass is required and where it is not.

"Restrictions vary widely around the country. Many individual operators would like to introduce a Covid pass but if they are not subject to the restrictions imposed by a Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi), they cannot do so by law," she said.

"We hope that the regional administrations will have a unified line throughout the country. We want clarity so that the Covid pass can be introduced everywhere," Sahlstedt added.

National Theatre wants Covid pass ASAP

The Director General of the National Theatre, Mika Myllyaho, also wants his institution to be able to check customers' passes.

"I believe that the Covid pass should be introduced immediately. We'd like to use it and have the capacity to do so," he said.

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Mika Myllyaho
The Director General of the National Theatre, Mika Myllyaho, also wishes that his institution could check customers' passes. Image: Sasha Silvala / Yle

"At the moment, our ticket sales have completely frozen up, because the Covid pass is not in use and people are hesitant," Myllyaho told Yle.

The Covid pass can only be used in areas where regional authorities have imposed restrictions on gatherings for public events.

It is up to each event organiser to decide whether to require Covid passes from customers or to alternately comply with restrictions on the number of attendees.

For example, on Monday the Avi for Western and Inland Finland ordered restrictions on indoor gatherings in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, where the epidemic is spreading.

As a result, the Tampere Theatre has been able to use the Covid pass, unlike the National Theatre in Helsinki. The Tampere Theatre requires passes from all customers over the age of 16.

"Extremely little negative feedback"

Sahlstedt noted that ticket sales picked up at those cultural and sporting events where passes were required in October.

"The Covid pass brings clarity, and customers feel that the pass strengthens their sense of security. There has been extremely little negative feedback," she told Yle.

According to Sahlstedt, the experiences of the event organisers have also been mainly positive.

"The introduction of the pass has been straightforward, as visitors' entry tickets are checked in any case. It doesn’t cause as much extra work as in restaurants, for example," she pointed out.

License to rock

Since mid-October, the rock club Tavastia in Helsinki has required a Covid pass for entry.

According to programme manager Mikko Merimaa, the feedback has been mainly positive.

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Yleisöä Ursus Factoryn Tavastian keikalla 15.7.2021.
Venerable Helsinki rock club Tavastia requires a Covid pass for entry. Fans at an Ursus Factory gig on 15 July, 2021. Image: Sini Järnström/ Yle

"Because of the pass, customers have felt safe coming to Tavastia for gigs, and our staff has treated the situation in the same way. We have received some negative feedback, though, mainly on social media, because there are also people who oppose the pass," said Merimaa.

Movie theatres require pass in some cities – but not Helsinki

At Finnkino cinemas in Turku and Pori, the Covid pass has been mandatory since last week. In Oulu, it will be introduced on Friday. For now, a pass is not required for cinemas in the Helsinki region.

"As the Avi has only placed restrictions on events without reserved seats, they don't apply to cinemas in the Helsinki metropolitan area," explained Hannele Wolf-Mannila, Sales Director of the largest cinema chain, Finnkino.

Residents of Finland can download their Covid passes from the official My Kanta website. When attending an event, the QR code can be displayed on a mobile device or on paper.

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