Europe’s Cruel, Cruel Summer: COVID Variants Bring New Concert Restrictions

The U.K. action will make it possible for U.S.-based artists booked for the Reading and Leeds festivals Aug. 27-29 — headliners include Post Malone and Machine Gun Kelly — to make the trip. Canadian metal band Spiritbox, for example, “wouldn’t have been able to fly to do these shows even if they had chosen to quarantine,” says the act’s agent, John Jackson, CEO of London-based K2 Agency, “because they have commitments in the U.S.”

Still, it may be too little, too late for U.S. artists who may be dissuaded by how the patchwork of restrictions has shrunk Europe’s touring map. “Even for a one-off, you take a risk,” says Jarred Arfa, GM of Artist Group International, which represents Billy Joel, Metallica and Rod Stewart. “You could fly over for a big date, and then the next thing you know, it’s blown out.”

Few markets illustrate the confusion sweeping the continent’s touring industry like Spain, where promoters have been forced to cancel, reschedule and downsize shows amid the surging COVID-19 variants. With much of Latin America shut down for live shows, Latin artists like Camilo and Rauw Alejandro have looked to tour Spain instead this summer and fall.

But Spain’s infection rate spiraled in July, even though the country has one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates. (Over 57% of the population was fully vaccinated by Aug. 3.)

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