Italy‘s Festivali di Sanremo 2021 may have hit another hurdle in the age of the pandemic. The Italian government has introduced new restrictions that mean RAI cannot use a live audience at Sanremo 2021. Italian media reports that RAI and Sanremo stakeholders will have an emergency meeting to discuss the fate of Sanremo 2021.
The Italian government has introduced new restrictions in an effort to curb the impact of Covid-19. The restrictions began on 15 January and are scheduled to end on 5 March.
The new rules permit television productions, including those filmed in concert halls and theatres, provided safety measures are followed. However, the rules are clear that such events cannot be held with a live audience.
Sanremo 2021 is due to run from 2 to 6 March, while the new Italian restrictions are scheduled to end on 5 March. This means that for the first four of the five nights of Sanremo, the show would not be allowed to go ahead with a live audience.
The new restrictions have reportedly taken RAI by surprise. The broadcaster is said to have been hoping for the opposite — to have more relaxed restrictions in place by the time Sanremo 2021 came around.
Faced with this upheavel to Sanremo 2021, RAI has scheduled a meeting in the coming week with the stakeholders of Sanremo 2021, including artistic director Amadeus, the municipality of Sanremo and show sponsors.
What options does Sanremo 2021 have?
One possibility is to hold Sanremo 2021 without a live audience. This is said to be the favoured solution of the show sponsors, seen as the simplest way of going ahead with the show. Sanremo is primarily a television show with a small live audience. While the audience does create atmosphere, it is not a core part of the festival.
Holding Sanremo with no live audience would also be in line with the staging of many Eurovision national finals around Europe, where broadcasters have chosen to not to take the risk of using a live audience.
Sanremo organisers have also been considering a proposal to have the show audience housed in a cruise ship for the duration of Sanremo week, with daily testing, essentially creating a Covid-free bubble. However, health experts have pointed out that if Covid did make it onto the ship, the vessel could see the virus rapidly spreading to others on board.
Another possibility is to further postpone Sanremo 2021. RAI is said to be considering a date in the second week of April, after Easter. Doing this, however, would be disruptive to the marketing calendars of sponsors and the release plans of record companies.
It would also mean that Sanremo 2021 could not not be used as Italy’s selection method for Eurovision 2021. RAI would instead need to internally select a non-Sanremo act in order to meet the EBU’s mid-March deadline.
Otherwise, the production schedule for Sanremo 2021 is still going ahead. The orchestra is due to begin rehearsals in Rome at the end of January.
What do you think? Should Sanremo 2021 go ahead without a live audience? Should RAI shift the festival to a later date? Tell us your thoughts below!