Concerts in Europe to be played behind closed doors amid coronavirus fears

Health ministers not taking any chances

Concerts and music festivals around Europe are set to be played behind closed doors, following a ruling by the European Commission’s Public Health authority. The move comes amid widespread fear over the coronavirus, which has already seen major sporting events played without spectators or cancelled altogether.

“What we are trying to do is minimise the threat to public health without disrupting an already crowded events calendar,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Several sporting events, including UEFA Champions League matches, have already been played behind closed doors as fears over coronavirus grow. A player from Tottenham Hotspur FC, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “obviously it’s unfortunate our fans couldn’t be there to watch us [lose 3-0 away to RB Leipzig]. It really changes the atmosphere, but not necessarily for worse: when I failed to head the ball clear in the build-up to Leipzig’s second goal, I would normally have had a few thousand people calling for my head. This time, there was just the one. Granted it was my manager, but still.”

The closing off of public events has so far not been implemented in the UK, where the public has been panic-buying toilet paper and canned salmon yet is easy going about conglomerating by the thousands in closed venues. Health officials at Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, were on high alert on Wednesday night after swathes of Liverpool fans were seen convulsing and foaming at the mouth after Atlético Madrid’s match-winning goal in their Champions League last-16 clash, but club officials were swift to reassure them that this is normal behaviour for Liverpool fans and probably has nothing to do with coronavirus.

At this point it is unclear how far-reaching the measures will be. We know that plans are in place at certain venues and festivals to set up live streaming services so that those who bought tickets to affected shows can trade them in for digital passes and enjoy the performance from the comfort and safety of home. Naturally, some artists are unhappy with the decision. Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said in an interview, “Well, I guess I’ll have to go and re-learn the words to American Idiot. I could normally rely on the crowd to fill in the blanks for me. This is just f**king great.”

Others were more optimistic. “Hang on a minute,” said Queen guitarist Brian May, “suppose we superimpose old footage of Freddie singing over our performances, we could do away with Adam Lambert!” Others yet were defiant in the face of adversity. Radiohead took to Instagram to reassure fans: “Even if we have to play in front of nobody, the atmosphere will be just as electric as it always is!”

Image: Huy Phan (

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