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Police interrupt concert with Covid certificate checks

Cultural events are gradually resuming. The new safety rules bring new challenges to the organizers and spectators of events, but sometimes they also create unpleasant surprises that overshadow the whole process, Latvian Radio reported July 6.

A vivid example of this was the concert on Saturday for the commemoration of poet Broņislava Martuževa in Lubāna. Concert organizers had fulfilled all safety requirements before the concert: carefully checked Covid-19 certificates, the seats were placed apart at an appropriate distance. But during the concert, the police arrived and, once again, all the spectators were asked to show their documents. As a result, according to the artists and audience members, the concert was ruined.

The singer performing at the concert, Aleksandra Špicberga, said she'd kept her eyes closed when she saw what was happening among the audience to be able to focus on the performance. She said: “The feelings were pretty crazy because their [the police's] presence completely ruined the whole concert... During the short breaks, I sat there thinking what to do now, because the concert is also being recorded, not only with live spectators. I realized I couldn't say anything from the stage, ask for something or point it out, because it was also watched by live viewers. But I tried to reach the audience even more through the lyrics, hoping that the verifiers might also be listening to the words,” she said.

The presence of the police was very bothersome, said renowned conductor Aira Birziņa, who was viewing the concert. She understands very well that all these situations are new, safety is very important, but said checks during the event is an unacceptable practice that basically disrupts the event.

She said: “If there is a show that is thought-out, contains serious music, serious poetry, then anyone walking between the rows would be disruptive. And this time, there was still the control, where they stopped at each person, and then they show a paper certificate or a code on the phone, it was really disturbing.”

“I certainly support the need for a system, how best to do it, but it can't be during the show. There must be a basic cultural attitude and respect for performers and viewers. At a party, disco, you can walk between dancers and ask for certificates, but not in a concert or show.”

The State Police (VP) told Latvian Radio that this is not a standard practice and apologized for the situation in Lubāna.

Dmitrijs Kohanovs, representative of the police, explained that the police had indeed been given the basic duty to control the compliance of the organizers of the event with the Covid-19 restrictions, but that the police were obliged to do so without disturbing the conduct of the event as much as possible by performing checks before or after the event.

Kohanovs called it an uncharacteristic incident and apologized to the concert organizers and spectators on behalf of the police.

The Ministry of Culture (KM) is the responsible authority that directs the conditions. Meanwhile the way in which the organizers comply with the safety measures are taken is controlled by the State Police or the municipal police.

KM representative Lita Kokale said: “In the course of these activities, the VP should endeavor to carry out its functions in such a way that it does not interfere with the enjoyment of a cultural event, and organize checks at either the beginning or end of the event without disturbing artists and viewers."

 

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