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UK: Events may return behind closed doors in June

Stage two of the British government's new ‘Covid-19 recovery strategy’ indicates some live events could take place in England from as early as 1 June

By IQ on 11 May 2020

British prime minister Boris Johnson has announced the new tier system

PM Boris Johnson during 10 May's televised address


image © Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“Cultural and sporting events” could return to England as early as next month, provided they are held without an audience, new UK government guidance suggests.

According to Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy – a 60-page document released this afternoon (11 May) following an address to the nation yesterday by prime minister Boris Johnson – live events would likely be allowed under ‘step two’ of the government’s ‘roadmap’ to lifting the coronavirus lockdown, which could come into effect on Monday 1 June.

However, such events would be required to take place behind closed doors “for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”, the document adds.

Johnson’s address was met with mixed reaction by much of the UK music industry, with the Night Time Industries Association expressing a typical view when it says: “We have been left again with uncertainty and concern over the details and the exact timeline of when we will be able to open our businesses.”

Our plan to rebuild offers a little more detail, though Britain still lags behind many of its European neighbours when it comes to a concrete timeline for reopening live events.

Described as “an indicative roadmap”, the document offers a path towards reopening the UK economy in the months ahead, but “will depend on the infection risk at each point, and the effectiveness of the government’s mitigation measures, like contact tracing”, it says.

The guidance excludes venues that are “are, by design, crowded, and may prove difficult to enact distancing”

Also of interest to the live industry is step three (provisionally set for 4 July), at which point authorities intend for hospitality businesses and “leisure facilities (like cinemas)” to be open. However, this excludes venues that are “are, by design, crowded, and may prove difficult to enact distancing”, the document says.

The government further cautions that “premises whose core purpose is social interaction (such as nightclubs), venues that attract large crowds (like sports stadia), and personal care establishments where close contact is inherent (like beauty salons) may only be fully possible significantly later [than step three] depending on the reduction in numbers of infections.”

Tom Watson, CEO of UK Music, says while the government is “right to try to move towards kickstarting our economy”, Our plan to rebuild is “missing the clarity the UK music industry so desperately needs”. He urges the setting up of a music industry taskforce to establish a clear way forward.

The roadmap will in practice only apply to England, with the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland developing their own timelines for easing lockdown.

Other talking points from the document include the recommendation for people to wear a face covering in spaces “where social distancing is not always possible”, and that employers should redesign workplaces to minimise the amount of people staff come into contact with.

 


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