Pragmatism, data and rock ‘n’ roll

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Announced on Monday, Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown points to a promising future for live events, from May 8 with a fair wind.

Committing to follow data rather than dates, the Prime Minister diarised his re-opening plans anyway, starting with schools and colleges on March 8. From then, there will be five weeks to study the stats between each subsequent phase.

Beyond how contagious it is, and the variants, there has been precious little that’s truly predictable about Covid-19 but highlights from the government’s best-case timetable could see test events taking place from April 12.

As it stands, those will be followed by the return of live music and theatre from May 17, with venues limited to 1,000 or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is the lower.

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At the same time, outdoor events will be permitted an audience up to 4,000 or to be half full, again whichever is the greater number. Seated stadia, for the likes of top tier football, rugby and cricket, where fans can spread out, will be permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity or 10,000, with the same caveat.     

Finally, no earlier than June 21, the last locks come off; no limits on social contact, large events taking place to capacity, nightclubs open et al.

“If you’d said to me a few months ago that by June 21 we were going to be in a position where we thought it was really credible to open up everything, I would have struggled to believe you,” Boris Johnson said at the Downing Street press conference on Monday evening. “But that’s the miracle of the vaccination programme.”

Amid mixed reaction from the events industry, UK Music Chief Executive, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, saw the upside.

“UK Music has consistently called for clarity and certainty from the government, so it’s great that ministers have listened and set out a clear route to reopen the live music industry.

“It is fantastic news for the 200,000 people working in the music industry and millions of music fans that we are just a few months away from live music bursting back onto stages.

“However, it is vital that our industry gets the continued economic support it needs to keep us going through to the point we can restart.

“The prospect of there being no legal impediments to live music events means issues like insurance are now even more pressing. They now present one of the final barriers to getting events going this summer.”

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