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UK live industry states support for Covid certification

Instead of vaccine passports, the industry is backing Covid-status certification, which would also include natural immunity and negative test results

By Jon Chapple on 23 Apr 2021

The Covid-status certification system could use the National Health Service's Covid-19 app

The system could use the National Health Service's Covid-19 app


image © NHS

Live music, entertainment, exhibition, events and indoor sports associations and businesses have pledged their support for Covid-status certification as a means to fully reopen venues.

In an open letter, signatories including AEG Europe, the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Kilimanjaro Live, the Concert Promoters’ Association, Ticketmaster, ASM Global, the Association of Festival Organisers, NEC Group and umbrella body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) state they are willing to work with the British government to implement Covid-status certification – ie ensuring all attendees are free from Covid-19 – at venues in order to get the industry back on its feet safely.

The signatories note that while under the current ‘roadmap’ live shows may return from 17 May with social distancing, the limit of 50% capacity indoors is unviable for the vast majority of businesses, who require at least 80% capacity as the economic threshold for their events.

As an alternative to social distancing, they propose certification – not be confused with vaccine ‘passports’, the idea of which has proven controversial in the UK – that all eventgoers are either vaccinated against Covid-19; have natural immunity to the disease; or have had a negative test within a set period of time prior to arrival.

“The intention of Covid-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution that is safe, simple, protects privacy and doesn’t cause unnecessary delays”

“The intention of Covid-status certification,” they write, “is to find a non-discriminatory solution that is safe, simple, protects privacy and doesn’t cause unnecessary delays or a poor experience for visitors.”

The letter, which can be read in full below, is also signed by non-live music bodies including Plasa (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association), #WeMakeEvents, the Meetings Industry Association, the Event Supplier and Services Association, Badminton England and British Athletics.

The sectors represented say they would support a blanket industry-wide introduction of Covid-status certification on a temporary basis following the planned relaxation of all capacity limits from 21 June. “We would expect that any certification is imposed fairly across the economy, reviewed regularly and removed when it is safe to do so.”

While vaccine passports, such as Israel’s green pass, have enabled the resumption of live entertainment in some territories, they are controversial in the UK due to privacy concerns, as well as for perceived discrimination against the unvaccinated, with the opposition Labour party having taken a stand against their introduction.

 


The live events and music industry will work with the Government on COVID-status certification to support full reopening and sector recovery.

The live events and music industry which includes exhibitions; conferences; music arenas; festivals; theatres and indoor sporting events, welcomes the establishment of the Events Research Programme and the safe return of live events as part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The industry is committed to working with the Government to ensure a swift delivery of the Event Research Programme’s pilot events and stands ready to establish protocols based upon the information and guidance they provide.

Under the current roadmap, the live events and music industry can plan for the return of some indoor business and music events from 17 May. These will follow social distancing guidelines and have attendance capped to the lower of 1,000 people or 50% of capacity indoors, 4,000 or 50% capacity outdoors and 10,000 or 25% capacity if seated outdoors. However, given the economic threshold for most business and music events is around 80% of maximum capacity, activities under these limits will be far from sufficient to end the sector’s financial crisis. This will also continue to have grave economic impacts on sectors that every live event supports, including but not limited to, hospitality, production, transport and logistics.

The Government’s reviews announced in the roadmap (COVID-status certification, social distancing, and the Events Research Programme) will explore different access control measures that businesses could be legally required to introduce. One that continues to be hotly debated in the press is the introduction of COVID-status certification. Not to be confused with the term ‘vaccination passports’, the simple premise is to reduce the likelihood of people who may be infected from attending events and ensure the safety of other attendees and event staff. This would be managed by ensuring that all attendees are either vaccinated OR have natural immunity OR have a negative COVID test within a set period of time prior to arrival. COVID tests are now available free of charge to all UK adults. The intention of COVID-status certification is to find a non-discriminatory solution that is safe, simple, protects privacy and doesn’t cause unnecessary delays or a poor experience for visitors.

The industry welcomes that the Events Research Programme is considering whether COVID-certification can be used as an enabler of all event types to return to capacity audiences, without masks or social distancing. We would support a blanket, industry-wide introduction of COVID-status certification on a temporary basis, to permit the full relaxation of capacity limits from 21 June, Stage Four of the Government’s roadmap. Implementation would be subject to the provision of clear and timely guidance from the Government, it being simple to understand and be of little cost to businesses. We would expect that any certification is imposed fairly across the economy, reviewed regularly, and removed when it is safe to do so.  

The introduction of COVID-status certificates as a temporary measure could be a pragmatic solution that would enable events to resume at commercially viable attendance levels and will also give further confidence to customers that events are safe to attend.  

We recognise there are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work, its viability for use at a range of different events and related data protection issues, for both the attendees and the organisers. The industry is committed to working at speed with the Government to help address these issues over the coming weeks as part of its considerations. It is essential that the industry has visibility and certainty as soon as possible on the form this government guidance will take so that it is able to plan effectively. This is particularly important given many major live music and business events are planned from late June and onwards and the sector typically requires a lead time of anywhere between three to six months to successfully stage large scale, organised meetings, events and performances.

The live events and music industry is confident that if the introduction of a robust COVID-status certification programme is recommended by the Government to enable the full reopening of capacity events, together with other calibrated, evidence-based mitigation measures, it would provide safe environments for all visitors, staff and audiences. The industry is more than capable of implementing additional health and safety practices; working with the Government, this can be done if all parties take a timely and transparent approach.

Live events are a part of our nation’s DNA, enriching our culture and commerce, boosting the economy by over £70 billion per year. It is time for their return. We look forward to working with the Government in resuming live events in a safe and sustainable manner and ensuring their role in contributing to both the economic success and cultural wealth of the UK returns.

Signed,

Exhibition and Conferences
Agribriefing
Rupert Levy, Group Finance Director
Harrogate Convention Centre
Paula Lorimer, Director
NEC Group
Paul Thandi CBE, Chief Executive Officer
Association of Event Organisers (AEO)
Chris Skeith, Chief Executive Officer
Hyve Group PLC
Mark Shashoua, Chief Executive Officer
Nineteen Group
Peter Jones, Chief Executive Officer
Association of Event Venues (AEV)
Rachel Parker, Director
Immediate Live
Paul Byrom, Managing Director
Olympia London
Nigel Nathan, Managing Director
Business Design Centre
Dominic Jones, Chief Executive Officer
Informa Markets
Mark Temple-Smith, Chief Operating Officer
P&J Live
Nick Waight, Managing Director
Clarion Events
Russell Wilcox, Chief Executive Officer
Manchester Central
Shaun Hinds, Chief Executive Officer
Reed Exhibitions UK
Anna Dycheva-Smirnova, Chief Executive Officer
CloserStill Media
Philip Soar, Executive Chairman
Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA)
James Selka, Chief Executive Officer
SEC
Peter Duthie, Chief Executive Officer
Events Industry Alliance (EIA)
Lou Kiwanuka, Chair
Media 10
Lee Newton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Tarsus Group PLC
Douglas Emslie, Chief Executive Officer
Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA)
Andrew Harrison, Director
Meetings Industry Association
Jane Longhurst, Chief Executive
William Reed
Andrew Reed, Managing Director, Events & Exhibitions
ExCeL London
Jeremy Rees, Chief Executive Officer
Montgomery
Damion Angus, Managing Director
Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre
Gareth Rogers, Chief Executive Officer
NCC Events
John Lally, Chief Executive Officer
Music, Ticketing, Theatre and Comedy
AEG Europe
John Langford, Chief Operating Officer
LIVE (Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment)
Greg Parmley, Chief Executive Officer
Really Useful Group
Jessica Koravos, President
AEG Presents UK
Steve Homer, Co-CEO
Marshall Arts
Barrie Marshall MBE/ Doris Dixon, Chairman/Director
Royal Albert Hall
Lucy Noble, Artistic and Commercial Director
ASM UK
John Sharkey, Executive Vice President for Europe
On behalf of: AO Arena Manchester, Bonus Arena, First Direct Arena, P&J Live, The SSE Arena, Wembley, Utilita Arena Newcastle.
Mick Perrin Worldwide
Mick Perrin, Managing Director
See Tickets
Rob Wilmshurst, Chief Executive Officer
Association for Electronic Music
Greg Marshall, General Manager
Music Managers Forum
Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive Officer
Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR)
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive Officer
Association of Festival Organisers
Steve Heap, General Secretary
Music Venue Trust 
Mark Davyd, Chief Executive Officer
The Entertainment Agents Association 
Tarquin Shaw-Young, Chair
Association of Independent Festivals 
Paul Reed, Chief Operating Officer
National Arenas Association (NAA)
Lucy Noble, Chair
The O2
Steve Sayer, VP & General Manager
British Association of Concert Halls
Kevin Appleby, Chair
Nottingham Arena
Martin Ingham, Chief Executive Officer
The SSE Hydro
Debbie McWilliams, Director of Live Entertainment
Concert Promoters Association (CPA)
Phil Bowdery, Chair
Phil McIntyre Entertainment
Phil McIntyre/Paul Roberts,
Owner/MD
Ticketmaster UK
Andrew Parsons, Managing Director
Featured Artists Coalition
David Martin, General Manager
Production Services Association 
Dave Keighley, Chair
#WeMakeEvents
Duncan Bell, Steering Committee Lead
Kilimanjaro Live Group
Stuart Galbraith, CEO
Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA)
Peter Heath, Managing Director
Indoor Sports
Badminton England
Adrian Christy, Chief Executive Officer
Grandstand Group
Emma Wardell, Event Director
Queensberry Promotions
Frank Warren, Founder
British Athletics
Ryan Murphy, Commercial Director
Matchroom Sport
Eddie Hearn/ Frank Smith,
MD Matchroom Sport/CEO Matchroom Boxing
ESL UK
James Dean, Chief Executive Officer
PDC
Matthew Porter, Chief Executive Officer

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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