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Outdoor events get go-ahead in England

Open-air shows with a reduced, socially distanced audience can take place in England this weekend, as the govt works with the sector to work out a plan for indoor events

By IQ on 10 Jul 2020

Outdoor events get go-ahead in England

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden

image © UK Parliament

Small open-air concerts, festivals and other live events can resume in England this weekend, provided social distancing measures are applied, the government announced yesterday (9 July).

The news comes in a week of positive developments for the UK live industry, following the announcement of a £1.57 billion aid package for the cultural sector on Sunday and a reduction in value-added tax (VAT) levied on event tickets on Wednesday.

The easing of restrictions, which sees the country move to stage three of a five-step roadmap for the reopening of the live entertainment industry, allows outdoor shows to take place “with a limited and socially distanced audience”.

Venues will also have to use electronic ticketing systems and keep a record of visitor details in case test and trace measures are needed.

“Our culture, heritage and arts are too precious to lose. That’s why we’re protecting venues like theatres from redevelopment if they fall on hard times,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

“From 11 July we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing and we are working hard to get indoor audiences back as soon as we safely can, following pilots.”

The government is currently working alongside industry bodies including the Musicians’ Union and UK Theatre, as well as with venues such as the London Palladium, to pilot a number of small indoor performances to inform plans on how to get indoor venues back up and running.

“It is a step forward that some performances can resume in limited outdoor settings, but there is still no date for a return to indoor live performances”

Indoor events will be permitted to reopen in England in the next stage of the roadmap, restricted to a “limited, distanced audience” and stage five allows for the reopening of all events with fuller audiences, but dates have yet to be given for the latter stages of the recovery roadmap.

Dowden adds that the government is working to give “further clarity on restart dates”.

Members of the UK entertainment industry have repeatedly criticised the absence of dates from the government’s reopening roadmap.

“It is a step forward that some performances can resume in limited outdoor settings, but there is still no date for a return to indoor live performances, either with restricted or full audiences,” comments Incorporated Society of Musicians CEO Deborah Annetts.

“This uncertainty hangs over many thousands of musicians whose income is overwhelmingly dependent on performing, and whose lives have ground to a complete halt as a result of Covid-19.”

Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill says that the announcement “lack[s] any real detail or information on where our sector stands”.

“We implore the government in the strongest terms to recognise our sector within Arts and Culture, and prioritise sector specific support before some amazing cultural businesses are lost forever,” says Kill.

Photo: UK Parliament (CC BY 3.0) (cropped)


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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