The British live music industry is expected to fully reopen without any restrictions from 19 July, prime minister Boris Johnson announced in a press conference today (5 July).
The PM set out details for the delayed fourth and final stage of the UK government’s roadmap, to be confirmed on 12 July, in which the majority of England’s remaining Covid restrictions will be lifted.
The rollback of legal Covid-19 restrictions will see Britain move to a system of individual responsibility and instead give businesses and organisations discretion to keep measures in place.
From 19 July onwards, face masks will be voluntary, the requirement to scan a QR code when entering a venue will be abolished, and regulations that require businesses to collect customers’ contact tracing details will be no longer be enforced.
Social distancing rules will be dropped, Covid status certification will not be required in law as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting, and table service at bars will no longer be mandatory.
Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing
The reopening will mark the first time since the start of the pandemic that the £4.6 billion live industry will be able to resume full-capacity events, including festivals.
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.
Elsewhere in the UK, Scotland is reducing restrictions to the lowest level on 19 July and plans to remove all restrictions on 9 August. The Welsh government will review the country’s restrictions on 15 July when they will announce further details.
And Northern Ireland executives will be meeting this week to discuss their data before making further decisions on easing restrictions.
While the British live industry has welcomed the news of a full reopening, associations, festivals and promoters have once again reinforced the need for a government-backed insurance scheme to support the sector’s recovery and boost organisers’ confidence.
“We need a government backed scheme to provide the security needed to start investing in events over the coming months”
Phil Bowdery, chairman of Concert Promoters Association, says: “I am delighted that the government has made the right choice today, letting the much-loved live music sector get back to doing what it does best.
“While we absolutely cannot wait to safely welcome back our fans, we are missing one piece of the puzzle – insurance. We need a government backed scheme to provide the security needed to start investing in events over the coming months, shoring up our industry and stimulating the wider economy as we build back following the pandemic.”
Paul Reed, CEO for the Association for Independent Festivals, added: “We welcome the prime minister’s statement and that large events including festivals are expected to be able take place from 19 July. It is positive for organisers, fans and artists alike that there will be some activity this year, though clearly it is too late for the estimated 56% of UK festivals that have already been forced to cancel and are still awaiting details of emergency funding and the next round of the Culture Recovery Fund.
“We now urge government to finally act on insurance and announce a government-backed scheme immediately. Insurance remains the key obstacle to planning with confidence and there is no rationale for not implementing such a scheme if the government’s roadmap is truly irreversible.
“We also need to ensure there is clear guidance for organisers and local authorities no later than 12 July, so that events don’t unravel at a local level. We ask that government also explore solutions for staff that will be affected by test and trace and isolation policies working at events this summer.”
“Insurance remains the key obstacle to planning with confidence and there is no rationale for not implementing such a scheme”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, says: “The live music industry is very pleased with the prime minister’s statement, and it seems we will finally see a return to full capacity performances on 19 July. We have watched the rest of the economy reopen while our doors have been forced to remain closed since the start of the pandemic, but today’s announcements will generate considerable excitement amongst music fans across the country.
“To save the rest of the summer and autumn schedule we now desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to provide the security required to invest in events. Government ministers have repeatedly said that a scheme would be announced once the legal barriers to full performances were removed. Well, we are now almost at that point and there must be no further delay if we are to reap the benefits of the superb vaccine roll-out.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, responded: “This is obviously extremely welcome news for millions of live music fans, for artists, crew, venues and local communities who have been deprived of music for so long. Since March 2020, Music Venue Trust’s aim has been to Reopen Every Venue Safely. We have been working alongside the grassroots music venue sector throughout to identify methods by which we can do that, regardless of any current government guidelines and resulting limitations and restrictions. The keyword for us and the sector throughout these long difficult months has been ‘safely.
“This announcement is hugely important and provides the opportunity to revive live music. It does not, however, change the central mission or the importance of the word ‘safely’. We are re-energising our efforts to work with our fantastic network of grassroots music venues to ensure that what each of them delivers to the public meets the highest standards of covid security and safety within the new guidelines.”
David Keighley, chair of the Production Services Association, added: “It’s really good to hear from our prime minister that we can hopefully and finally get back to normal after the 19 July. The concert touring, festivals and events sector of our economy have been the hardest hit by Covid. We were the first to stop and we are only now being allowed to reopen. We must all be truly thankful for the vaccines as this is the reason we can almost get back to normal.”
“To save the rest of the summer and autumn schedule we now desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme”
Sacha Lord, co-creator of Parklife festival, which is due to take place in Manchester in September, tweeted: “If the PM [prime minister] does give the green light for the 19th [July], the chancellor must immediately announce festival insurance, in line with other countries. Freelancers and the supply chain are dependent on this.”
Adam Gregory, festival director at Bloodstock Open Air, which is due to take place in Derbyshire in August, echoes the call for insurance.
“There’s still no indemnity to allow us to plan safely…the uncertainty still remains,” Gregory tells IQ. “That’s something that needs immediately addressing so that we can again start planning for 2021 and 2022. Also international travel for artists coming to work should be given the opportunity to do s0 without having to quarantine.”
Gregory says that even though some Covid precautions are no longer mandatory, Bloodstock Open Air will still insist upon certain measures.
“I think there’s a moral responsibility to make sure that, as an event, we do the right thing for everybody attending the festival. I’m sure there will be events out there that just to go back to pre-Covid times and just remove absolutely all the measures but I don’t necessarily think at this moment in time that’s the right thing to do. We can’t go back to business as usual, as much as we all want to, I don’t think that’s necessarily the right thing to do.”
John Giddings, promoter of Isle of Wight festival, also due to take place in September, has welcomed the “collective responsibility” the government is placing on the nation and says it’s “about time” test and trace requirements are dropped.
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