Artists Shaken by Sudden Lockdown in the Moravian-Silesian Region

The hashtag "from minute to minute" used by event organizers to express disappointment about the sudden lockdown.

UPTADE: Starting on Friday the 24th, the security measures were lifted. Gatherings of up to 1000 people are now permitted, as long as participants wear masks (some districts had the measures lifted completely). Some events organizers, however, had already canceled events and will not benefit from the reversal. The reported cases have stayed steady over the week since the lockdown.

On Friday, the Regional Public Health Service of the Moravian-Silesian Region suddenly instated another lockdown.

The Regional Public Health Service called for face-masks in all closed spaces, including public transpiration, and forbid gatherings of over 100 people, both inside and outside. Organizers of cultural events are probably the most affected. Many events of up to 1000 spectators had been planned for this time, including a replacement of the international Colours of Ostrava festival, already re-organized last-minute as a Nefestival (Non-Festival.) Most cultural events organizers in the region must cancel their performances altogether and face dire financial repercussions. 

“I firmly disagree with the extent and manner in which the state of emergency was announced, especially as it pertains to open-air performances. The Regional Public Health Service and the Ministry of Health has been assuring us, lately, that the situation in the hardest-hit districts was calming down and that they have it under control. That is why I am shocked by the announcement of these new restrictions,”  said the assistant regional council president of the Moravian-Silesian region Lukáš Curylo.

“We don’t know anything and the fact that we don’t know anything is partially because in the last weeks we talked about how nothing is happening. I consider this an utter disgrace of communication,” said one of the organizers of the Summer Shakespeare Festival in Ostrava, Andrej Harmečko. The Shakespeare festival was supposed to begin in a week. “We need more information. At the moment we’re considering total cancellation. Or, possibly, we’ll cancel the performances one-by-one and begin playing again the moment the restrictions are lifted,” he said.

The director of the Colours of Ostrava festival, which had already been reduced this year and called Nefestival (Non-Festival), Zlata Holušová, considers the restrictions outrageous and economically devastating.  Given her financial losses, she’s considering legal steps. 

Image from this year’s Colours of Ostrava Nefestival (Non-Festival). The festival ran for two days before it was canceled.

“The Regional Health Service canceled us. Because there are three new cases in Ostrava. No one warned us. I consider restrictions this brutal merely for preventative reasons incomprehensible,” said Halušová. She pointed out that people are able to attend the Zoo in unlimited numbers simply because they’re outside and that the same could be said of her festival, which is outdoors and allows sufficient space between visitors. “Culture comes last in this country,” she said. Holušová’s main complaint is that the Health Service announced these new measures “from one hour to the next” and no one warned organizers of public events ahead of time. The spokesperson of the Nefestival, Jiří Sedlák, only found out about the cancellation from the questions of journalists. The sudden cancellation prompted the festival to use the hashtag #zminutynaminutu, “from minute to minute.”

“If you organize a festival in the worst-hit region in the Czech Republic, there will always be a risk of cancelation,” said the Minister of Health. “I myself am surprised that the festival is happening this year at all, and that they didn’t, given the time and the region, decide to postpone it,” he said. He does agree, however, that the restrictions could have started to take effect at midnight, to give everyone more time to prepare. (Source.)

The Moravian Silesian civil democrats have expressed strong opposition to the government and are calling for Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch’s immediate resignation.

The hardest-hit district of the Czech Republic is called Karviná, and is on the tip of the Moravian Silesian region, at the Polish border. As of this writing, the concentration here is 748 infected for every 100 000 citizens. The second hardest-hit region is the adjacent Frýden-Místek, with 155 cases per 100 000 followed by the, also adjacent, city of Ostrava with 79 cases per 100 000. (Source.) Epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar, who is following the situation, said that the virus was not spreading from the mines in the Ostrava and Karviná region, as popular belief would have it, but, rather, from new epicenters in private companies outside of Karviná, which allow employees from abroad with positive covid-19 tests. (Source.)

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