Reduced-capacity, socially distanced shows are set to return to indoor music venues in England from 1 August, the government has announced
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
From 15 December, Covid certificates or a negative lateral flow test will be required to attend many concerts in an attempt to combat Omicron variant
By James Hanley on 08 Dec 2021
Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England as part of tougher restrictions unveiled by the government in response to the Omicron variant.
Speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street, prime minister Boris Johnson said the rapid increase in infections meant it was necessary to implement its “Plan B” measures to combat the spread of the virus.
The new rules, he said, would “help to keep these events and venues open at full capacity, while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others”.
From next Wednesday (15 December), the wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for:
* Venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs
* Unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people
* Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people
The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme follows extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions. Earlier this week the Scottish government also added LFTs to their own rules.
Johnson added that, “The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.”
The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard
Reacting to the announcement, a spokesperson for music trade body LIVE said: “The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their Covid-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification.
“Across the country, music venues and events already have tried, tested and workable systems in place to ensure that live events continue to be safe – and these remain effective. However, after such a prolonged closure throughout the pandemic it is important the industry is able to remain open and that the government have listened to the industry and included the use of lateral flow testing in covid certification.”
The botched rollout of Scotland’s vaccine passport app earlier this autumn cost venues £250,000 a week, according to the Music Venue Trust.
The Scottish Music Venues Alliance reported a 39% dip in business per week, amounting to £249,471.23, since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs on 1 October, while a vast majority of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.
Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses
Mark Davyd, CEO Music Venue Trust, says: “Whilst this is obviously a blow to the progress in the battle against the virus, we are pleased that the government has listened to the grassroots music venue sector and adopted a Covid Pass policy that recognises testing and applies to larger gatherings – those venues operating at above 500 capacity.
“MVT’s #TakeaTest policy has been extremely successful in limiting infection incidents in grassroots music venues, and we welcome the announcement that this has been recognised in the new policy. Regardless of the size of the event you are attending, we continue to urge music lovers to #TakeaTest”.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-time Industries Association (NTIA), adds: “Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses, as we seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented. Trade is down 30% in Scotland and 26% in Wales following their implementation.
“The UK government have twice ruled out vaccine passports before twice changing their mind. The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the government have arrived at the worst possible time – the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector. And now it is announced damaging vaccine passports are to be implemented.”
Check out the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets here.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.