The Swiss federal government will now subsidise event cancellation insurance for major events, according to a newly amended article in its Covid 19 Act. The updated legislation says that the government will contribute to the uncovered costs of public events which have ‘cross-cantonal importance’ (such as concerts or festivals) between 1 June 2021 and 30 April 2022.
Under the new act, organisers of major events who have a cantonal permit can claim back costs that aren’t covered by public support measures, insurance or cancellation agreements, if their event is cancelled or postponed due to government-enforced Coroanvirus restrictions.
It is understood that each of the 26 Swiss cantons will continue to pay 50% of the costs of cancelled events in their region, as they have done so far in Switzerland’s other compensation schemes. The Swiss government has said it will only contribute, at most, the same amount as the cantons.
The prerequisites of the scheme have rendered criticism from two of Switzerland’s event associations – the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) and the association of trade fair organisers and suppliers, Expo Event – which have long been lobbying for a protective umbrella.
SMPA’s managing director, Stefan Breitenmoser, doubts whether organisers of major events will be able to secure cantonal permits far enough in advance of their events: “In reality, permits are only issued relatively shortly before the event during normal operations.”
Expo Event president, Christoph Kamber, is concerned that the devolvement of power to the cantons will result in a fractured approach to the scheme: “The fear is that we will have 26 different solutions and speeds. We call on the Council of States to work in the cantons to ensure that the protective umbrella does not degenerate into a toothless paper tiger. Picking up the cantons will delay the introduction of the protective umbrella and there is a great risk that it will come too late for many events.”
Major Swiss festivals including Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival and Rock the Ring have already cancelled their 2021 editions, citing “a lack of planning security for large events”. Kamber has also pointed out the lack of support for events that can be carried out to a limited extent, “though it can ultimately cost the state treasury less than a cancellation or postponement”.
The Expo president has called for clarification on the support, as well as information on cantonal support measures for regional and local events.