Pilot project: With a test in the theater

In Berlin, the first theaters and opera houses are to open for a pilot project. The audience has to go to the test beforehand - a model for the future?

After a month-long break, the first stages in Berlin are to open for a pilot project in March. The audience will be tested for the corona virus beforehand. In addition to the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berliner Ensemble and the State Opera Unter den Linden, the Club Commission will also be there with a concert.

Nine events are planned for the beginning of April. "Such a pilot is unique in Germany - and hopefully a contribution with a view to a carefree visit to cultural events", said Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer (left) on Thursday.

Tests on the theater stages

The audience receives personalized tickets, has to go to the corona test in advance and should wear medical mouth and nose protection during the performance. Distance rules also apply. The Berliner Ensemble will kick off on March 19, while the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation is planning a symphony concert on March 20.

The results of the test runs would be jointly evaluated and made available to other institutions, said Lederer. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic a year ago. At the moment, stages - like many other facilities in Germany - are closed.

Negative test result as a new entry ticket?

Two performances of “Panikherz” are now planned for the pilot project at the Berliner Ensemble. "The audience will sit in a checkerboard pattern, with an FFP2 mask," said director Oliver Reese. The admission ticket is linked to a test that can be done at five test stations on the same day. The negative result must then be shown at the entrance control at the theater.

The pilot project does not mean that theater is now possible again. "It's not our decision, it's a political one," said theater director Reese. He is convinced, however, that there is an urgent need for structured opening strategies for culture that are not linked to incidence values.

Blueprint for the German theater

At the beginning of March, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the country leaders laid down a step-by-step plan to gradually bring Germany out of lockdown. According to this, theaters, concert halls and cinemas can open on March 22 at the earliest - with higher incidence values, however, only for people with a current corona test.

"We want to be prepared," said Berlin's Senator for Culture Lederer on Thursday in the Berlin House of Representatives. "We will hopefully provide a blueprint not only for Berlin, but also for other federal states." The Konzerthaus Berlin, the Volksbühne, the Deutsche Oper and the tourism company Visit Berlin are also participating in the test run with a conference.

The German Stage Association in Cologne welcomed the project. "We are pleased that Berlin is now accelerating," said Managing Director Marc Grandmontagne. The testing of the audience is an important component of the return concepts. Everyone benefited from the experiences that were now being made in Berlin.