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U.K. LIVE BIZ TO REOPEN 7/19

The U.K. is prepared to drop most public gathering restrictions on 7/19, opening the doors for venues, nightclubs and mass events without capacity limits. The live music industry has welcomed the news, with some caveats.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the delayed reopening will go ahead as planned to move the U.K. from “a universal government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility.” He added that if another variant is found that doesn’t respond to vaccines or “some really awful new bugs appear,” the decision could be revised.

Alongside the return of live music, there will be no legal requirement to wear masks, and social distancing measures will be dropped (aside from at airports and other ports). Remaining restrictions pertain to international travel, and there will still be a requirement to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

Greg Parmley, CEO of trade body LIVE, welcomed the news but said that to save the rest of the summer and autumn schedule, a government-backed insurance scheme is desperately needed 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,” he said. “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 rollout.”

Since the government delayed its reopening plan by four weeks, about 56% of U.K. festivals have been forced to cancel for this year, according to Paul Reed, CEO of the Association for Independent Festivals. These include recently scrapped events Black Deer FestivalBoomtownBST Hyde ParkKendal Calling and Truck Festival

To avoid more casualties, Reed backed Parmley’s call for insurance. “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,” he said, while also calling for “clear guidance” for organizers and local authorities no later than 7/12 so that “events don't unravel at a local level.” 

Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, said that the lifting of restrictions doesn’t change the organization’s mission to reopen venues safely. “We are re-energizing 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.”

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