Health officials in France are on high alert after the country confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the Paris region on December 2.
Naturally, the ever-changing situation regarding the pandemic is forcing organisers of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest to re-think what they need to do to keep everyone safe. Now, just a few weeks before the start of Junior Eurovision in Paris, the EBU and France Télévisions are imposing new measures to limit the risk of spreading Covid inside the venue La Seine Musicale. The dress rehearsal show, which is traditionally open to ticket holders, will now be done without an audience.
Many European countries are again in lockdown and coping with the new variant Omicron. So too here in France, where health officials are currently battling the start of a fifth wave of the epidemic. New health and safety measures were recently announced by the French government. These include requiring a negative PCR test within 24 hours for all travellers coming from outside the European Union. A Covid pass is also required for everyone and anyone to enter all enclosed areas, and the terraces of bars and restaurants. The validity of the tests has been reduced to 24 hours.
Understandably, and following confirmation of the new variant in the capital region, the organization of Junior Eurovision is taking action. Only the grand final of Junior Eurovision — on December 19 — will have an audience. And this audience will need to follow the broader safety measures in force around all of France: namely, the wearing of masks and social distancing. People who bought tickets for the dress rehearsal on December 18 can request a refund.
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The EBU has issued an official statement on the situation.
“In response to the exceptional health situation in Europe right now, and to ensure the presence on stage of each of our 19 artists, France Télévisions has decided to only admit an audience to the Live Show of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest on Sunday 19 December.”
“Those who have booked tickets for the Dress Rehearsal on Saturday 18 December should contact La Seine Musicale directly. They can receive a full refund or transfer their tickets to the Live Show on Sunday 19 December.”
“Tickets are still available for the live broadcast of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest via the La Seine Musicale website where health and safety measures for attending the show can also be found.”
Health and safety measures within the Junior Eurovision venue.
During the previous official press conference, France Télévisions had explained the health and safety measures that will be applied to the artists, the delegations and all the people attending the event.
These measures include the implementation of a “health bubble” for artists and their delegations, who are requested not to leave their hotel unless necessary, as well as a PCR test every 48 hours for all people attending the Seine Musicale before the show. People who test positive will be isolated and will receive care from Paris hospitals.
There are, of course, other important issues besides Covid. France Televisions recognises that large-scale events can be targets of terrorism and have presented a strict protocol for all people accessing the show.
Behind the scenes, producers are working closely with the national police and the Gendarmerie, which will be mobilized to secure the venue and other key locations throughout the event.
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