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Covid cancellation fears for Hungary’s festival season this summer

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Covid cancellation fears for Hungary’s festival season this summer
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There is uncertainty in Hungary over which concerts and festivals will go ahead this summer, if any, amid confusion over the government's coronavirus rules.

A representative for the prime minister's office, Gergely Gulyas, told Euronews that it was realistic for mass events to take place only after five million vaccinations had been deployed.

But this information is not being seen as helpful because it is not possible to plan ahead and the biggest events have already been cancelled for the year.

“Some of the larger events have cancelled this year's events, such as the Sziget Festival, the Balaton Sound or the Fezen Festival and replaced them with smaller events,” said Natalia Oszko-Jakab, co-chair of the Hungarian Tourist Programme Foundation.

“But a lot of the organisers still persevere and we hope that it will really be possible to organise festivals, at least with a certificate of protection or COVID-immunity.”

There is also uncertainty for musicians.

Szabolcs Arkosi is one of the frontmen of the band Los Orangutanes but instead of making music, he is working in a vintage clothing store.

By May each year, he usually knows his entire summer concert programme — but not this year.

“According to the organisers of the events and based on my experience from the previous years, most of the festivals are fully set up by March and the performers are selected. This year no one knows very much about it,” he said.

The Kobuci Garden is one of the most popular concert venues in Budapest but it is now empty as organisers are unable to plan ahead.

The season should have started in April and concerts would be held six days a week, which was also arranged in advance this year.

“There are a lot of scenarios but there’s nothing to adjust to, so we don’t know what the government's intentions are,” said Gabor Kaszap, chief executive of Kobuci Kert.

“Our programme is already organised, and we'll try to reorganise it two or three weeks in advance, to coordinate it with the bands.

“But if we don’t do this now, then when? Under what circumstance? Uncertainty is the biggest problem at the moment.”

Festival organisers hope they'll soon be given a date when events can go ahead and told what restrictions will be in place.