The countries of Europe have long been numbered among the most lucrative markets for reggae artistes, owing to the numerous huge festivals staged there, especially during the summer months. Among the annual festivals are Reggae Geel, Uprising Festival, Rototom Sunsplash, Uppsala Reggae Festival, Summerjam and Seasplash. Entertainers who needed to visit Europe for work purposes simply had to secure documentation from the promoters who were hiring them, and then apply for a Schengen visa.
This is the most common visa for Europe and it enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the member countries. This single visa gives entertainers and their entourages access to the 26 Schengen countries, namely Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. A short-stay visa, it allows a person to travel to access up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic having the world on its knees, a new set of rules and regulations may be implemented. A headline on the website, schengenvisainfo.com, informs, ‘COVID-19 Test Results and Later on Vaccination Will Be Required for Schengen Visa Application’.
The article states, “It is a sure thing that once the risks from the pandemic are reduced, and the Schengen Area starts going back to normality, the member states will start asking for additional documents regarding applicant’s health conditions.” It added that in an exchange of emails with SchengenVisaInfo.com, a European Union official stated, “When the Schengen Borders open up in September, if they do, Schengen Visa applicants will need to submit a coronavirus test that has resulted negative, taken within the last two weeks prior to the visa application. The traveller may be required to take a new test before travelling to the Schengen area, as to make sure that he/she has not been infected in the meantime,” the source said.
The article added, “The official also noted that once the COVID-19 vaccine is confirmed and available for all, visa applicants may also be required to be vaccinated in the future, in particular, if the virus remains active.”
While the requirement may seem that Schengen countries are going to extra lengths pushed by the coronavirus pandemic, the official states that in the past there have been similar requirements imposed by some of the Schengen member states, towards countries worst hit with the Swine Flu and the Ebola virus, schengenvisainfo.com stated.
Just last week, reggae artiste Chronixx, for whom Europe is an extremely viable market, caused quite a brouhaha when he made an anti-vaccine post, which was also interpreted by some as being anti-5G. Alongside a picture of Masanobu Fukuoka, a pioneer in natural farming, Chronixx hit out against the coronavirus circus, and tried to make a case for natural remedy, rather than vaccines. He spoke about the many online concerts that his colleagues in entertainment are involved in, and stated, “I’m only going online for a concert if it’s an action against global vaccination. [Expletive] everything else.”
Proposals for the coronavirus vaccine trials have stirred controversy. Earlier this month, two French doctors were dragged on social media over comments they made on television suggesting that Africa should become a testing ground for a COVID-19 vaccine. “If I was a bit provocative, I would say that we could go and do tests in Africa. They haven’t got masks, no treatment, no intensive care system, we could go and test there,” Jean-Paul Mira, the head of the intensive care unit at a hospital in Paris, said. He went on to draw a parallel between Africans and prostitutes, “It’s a bit like when we tested vaccines against AIDS on prostitutes because we knew that they don’t protect themselves.” Camille Locht, a research director, agreed with him.
In a social-media response, Senegal striker Demba Ba said, “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and debility become commonplace.” Ivory Coast soccer star Didier Drogba tweeted, “Africa isn’t a testing lab. I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racist words.”
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the remarks a “hangover from a colonial mentality”.
Mira has since apologised for his statement, and Chronixx, surprisingly, has deleted his comment.
Africa is the continent which has been least affected by COVID-19. Coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, and has since circled the globe, with cases in the world topping two million. Four Schengen members – Spain, Italy, France, and Germany – are among the worst-hit countries.