After more than a year of closure, the British live music industry will be able to fully reopen without restrictions from 19 July, it was confirmed today (12 July) by prime minister Boris Johnson.
As reported in IQ last week, from 19 July (the fourth and final stage of the UK government’s roadmap), large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements and attendees will no longer be legally required to wear a face mask.
While the news has been welcomed by many across the business, the country’s rising infection rates in recent days sees the government “urging” nightclubs and large events to use Covid-status certification, a measure which may become mandated if cases continue to increase. For now, “the most at-risk events, such as nightclubs and mass indoor events, will be strongly encouraged to use as a ‘means of entry’ at venues” – but this will not be a legal requirement.
Updated guidance for the live events sector is due to be published tomorrow.
While today’s announcement is a crucial step forward for the £4.6 billion industry, there are many barriers that still remain which will severely impede the recovery of the sector.
The government has said on numerous occasions that it would address the market failure in Covid cancellation insurance once the country moved to Step 4, but plans for any kind of indemnity scheme are yet to be announced.
The live industry is also calling for a cultural exemption to isolation requirements for artists and crews, replaced instead by frequent testing. This would save productions from collapsing due to the need to isolate whole casts or crew when just one person in a bubble contracts Covid. From 16 August, fully vaccinated individuals will be exempt from needing to self isolate as part of the country’s Test & Trace programme.
“IF GOVERNMENT REALLY WANTS US TO GET BACK OUR FEET, THEY NEED TO MAKE LIVE EVENTS FINANCIALLY VIABLE”
Finally, the sector is calling for an exemption that will enable international talent to perform on UK stages without the period of quarantine – which many are unable to do due to other commitments. The UK’s professional sporting sector has already obtained this exemption, allowing teams to come from around Europe to the UK to play in the European Championship without quarantining.
The UK live sector has welcomed today’s confirmation but echoes these unresolved concerns.
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says: “We welcome the Health Secretary’s confirmation of progressing to Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. Government has repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long-overdue resolution to this problem.
“AIF is also working with the relevant government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including Covid certification where considered appropriate. Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, says: “Today is a fantastic day for live music – our members cannot wait to get back out there and put on the events safely that our fans have been missing this past year.
“While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change. If government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised, and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”
“IN ORDER TO SAVE THE LAST FEW EVENTS OF THE 2021 SEASON WE MUST HAVE THE NECESSARY GUIDANCE IMMEDIATELY”
Steve Heap, general secretary of The Association of Festival Organisers, says: “The Association of Festival Organisers is delighted to hear the Secretary of State tell the house that the government have no plans to start charging for lateral Flow Tests. Whilst we are of course also very pleased the government will take us to Step 4 on July 19th. However in order to save the last few events of the 2021 season we must have the necessary guidance immediately as festivals are trying to meet the required regulations at very short notice.”
David Keighley, Chair of the Production Services Association, says: “It is great news to hear that finally the government has confirmed the easing of restrictions on the 19th July. The success of the vaccination roll out has been the key factor in making the move to step 4 possible. Ironically we see very large increases in Covid cases at this time but if the vaccines mean the number of serious cases and hospitalisations remain relatively low, then it is right to open up our economy. Let’s all hope this remains the case in the coming months. There is still a level of uncertainty and we all need to be cautious throughout the summer and particularly moving into autumn.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, says: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the decision to permit grassroots music venues in England to open at full capacity from 19 July. For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can Reopen Every Venue Safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It’s finally time to Revive Live.
“Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to Revive Live Music, and to show that we can do that safely. Let’s take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”
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