One year ago: Covid-19 hit the Eurovision world

On this day one year ago, the 6th of March 2020, the Danish Prime Minister cancelled all larger gatherings, and as a result, Danish broadcaster quickly decided that next day’s Danish final would be without audience. This was the beginning of a year which would affect most of us – and still does.

Do you remember where you were around lunchtime on the 6th of March 2020? I, the writer of this article, remember it very clearly. We were in Copenhagen to cover the Danish final the following day. We had an interview planned and were preparing to head to the arena. All of a sudden, the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen unexpected goes on TV to announce that all large gatherings in Denmark have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus, and it’s COVID-19 disease. At this point, it was still an epidemic, later it would officially be classified a pandemic.

In the few hours, and even the days, just after the decision to carry on without audience was taken, we were all unsure about a lot of things. In her press conference the Prime Minister had also cancelled hugs and handshakes. At this early step, social distance was still unknown to us all. We went to the arena, and got our interview with Emil and one of the songwriters, Esben Svane. At that time, it really felt awkward not being able to shake hands like we normally do for interviews. Watching the interview now, it feels awkward to see that we didn’t keep distance, but we didn’t know better on the 6th of March 2020.

Denmark reacted when they had 21 people infected. Some Eurovision fans, like ourselves, were worried that it would affect the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, but at this point, many foreign fans saw it as an overreaction from Denmark. It didn’t take more than a few weeks though before most of Europe had shut down. And as we all know, Eurovision pre-parties and the Eurovision Song Contest itself were cancelled. Most of us faced lock downs, a lot of worries and loss of family members and friends.

Eurovision will get back to normal – hopefully by 2022

We have all been through a difficult year, and the Love Shine A Light show and the Eurostream 2020 couldn’t make up for that we as Eurovision fans felt lost without the Eurovision Song Contest. But health above all, and the organisers didn’t see an option for the contest to be held with performances in the various countries already back then. For the 2021 edition, they are prepared for that to happen. At the moment, they are hoping though for a scenario B where audience and various activities will be reduced with everyone keeping 1.5-metre distance. Should that be impossible, all artists have been asked to record a live-on-tape which will be used in case they can’t travel to Rotterdam, the Netherlands in May.

But, the year hasn’t been all depressing. In the summer 2020, Netflix released ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’. It gave most of us a well needed laugh. A lot of things were exaggerated and didn’t quite match reality. In fact, we listed 25 things they got wrong in that film and that was just a portion of them. In order to be fair, we did afterwards list 12 things, we actually didn’t expect them to get right.

We will get back to a normal life. By the end of this summer, it looks like most European countries will have vaccinated if not all, then at least a big part of their population. And that will hopefully be the game-changer that brings some kind of normality back. While this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will still very much be affected by the pandemic, at the moment there’s hope for that things will look more like we know it when we come to the 2022 edition.

Covid-19 numbers around Europe – how things changed in one year

A lot has happened in just one year. Below we compare how the situation is in various Eurovision countries, and how it has changed in just one year. From the 6th of March 2020 to the 6th of March 2021.

Note: It has to be added that the numbers of infected really can’t be compared much as testing facilities vary a lot. In some countries, they only test those with symptoms whereas a country like Denmark encourages everyone in the population above the age of 12 to get tested minimum once a week, twice if they meet with other people not in their household, for example if they work in a shop or with healthcare. If you test your population that much, you will catch many of the ones infected without symptoms, and as such the number of infected will be higher than in countries who only test people with symptoms.

Country Infected per 6th of March 2020 Deaths per 6th of March 2020 Infected per 6th of March 2021 Deaths per 6th of March 2021
Italy 3,858 148 3,023,129 99,271
Germany 577 0 2,492,807 72,257
France 423 14 3,835,595 87,835
Spain 345 5 3,149,012 71,138
United Kingdom 116 1 4,201,358 124,025
Belgium 109 0 780,251 22,196
Norway 105 0 74,037 632
Sweden 101 0 684,961 13,003
The Netherlands 82 1 1,110,213 15,762
Denmark 21 0 213,932 2,377


This reflection article is based on the author's own personal experience. Views expressed belongs to him or her, and are to be seen as unrelated to

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