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MUSIC

German court declares techno to be music

Fans never doubted it, but now a top German court has confirmed it: techno is music and clubs should benefit from the same reduced sales tax rate as concert halls.

German court declares techno to be music
People at an outdoor party in Berlin's Hasenheide park in July, in place of closed clubs. Photo: DPA

Germany's federal fiscal court BFH agreed with plaintiffs, including Berlin's legendary Berghain club, that they should not have to pay the standard 19 percent VAT on ticket sales when concert venues enjoy a lower rate of seven percent.

In a ruling on October 29th, the court found that “the average visitor” at a techno or house club was there primarily for the music and the DJs, making club nights “similar to concerts”, regardless of whether there were singers or musicians playing instruments.

READ ALSO: 'We've never had such a big threat': German clubs fear for their future

The DJs do more than just play tracks, “they perform their own new pieces of music using instruments in the broader sense, to create new sound sequences that have their own character,” the judges said.

The decision is a rare piece of good news for German nightclubs, which have been forced to keep their doors closed for more than six months now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Party hotspot Berlin, home to iconic clubs like KitKat, Sage and Tresor that usually draw thousands of revellers, has been especially hard hit by the shutdowns.

Fears are growing that despite government aid, short-time work schemes and crowdfunding efforts, not all venues will survive the crisis.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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