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England to scrap all remaining Covid restrictions

Industry bodies such as AIF, LIVE, NTIA and AFEM have welcomed today's news but warned that the need for government action remains

By IQ on 21 Feb 2022


The English live music industry has welcomed the government’s plans to lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Prime minister Boris Johnson today (21 February) announced the ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan which will put an end to self-isolation and free testing.

From Thursday (25 February), the legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive Covid test will be removed in England.

Meanwhile, free Covid testing – which has reportedly cost £15.7 billion – will end for the general public in England from 1 April.

The PM says restrictions can be lifted now because the levels of immunity are high and deaths are low.

“This is not back to business as usual for festivals and it is not a case of ‘job done’ for ministers”

The live music industry has hailed the end of Covid-19 restrictions as a “huge relief” but warns that ongoing support from the government is needed.

Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says: “While we welcome legal restrictions around Covid-19 coming to an end and the prospect of a full capacity festival season, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt by the independent festival sector and the need for government action remains. With festival organisers facing crippling cost increases of up to 30% across operations and infrastructure, this is not back to business as usual for festivals and it is not a case of ‘job done’ for ministers.

“AIF reiterates its call for ongoing support from government in the form of continued VAT relief on festival tickets to maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March; and to also explore some form of government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain.”

Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE says: “The end of Covid-19 restrictions represents a huge, welcome relief to the live music sector, which lost billions in revenue throughout the pandemic. But with spiralling costs and thousands of companies struggling with pandemic debt, it’s crucial that government does not abandon and set the sector adrift, just as it starts to tread water again.

“We are calling for a reverse to the planned hike in VAT rates and the imminent end to business rates relief in order to avoid further business closures and job losses within our sector.”

“The extension of VAT & Business rates relief remains a key ask”

Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA, says: “The withdrawal of the remaining covid restrictions is welcomed by the industry, and will further support business recovery and go some way to regaining customer confidence.

“Our responsibility to keep customers and staff safe remains our focus, maintaining baseline mitigations as we have done since the 19th July 2021.

“Experts have suggested that recovery to pre covid trading levels will take several years, but we cannot lose sight of the short term role that the government must continue to play in supporting the sector, beginning with the chancellor’s budget in March.

“The extension of VAT & Business rates relief remains a key ask, allowing businesses the financial headroom to survive, on this long road to recovery.

“Given the commitment and support, over the last two years, that the sector has given to the government’s public health strategy, it is only right that they recognise and support the hardest-hit industries through the final phase of this crisis.”

Greg Marshall, general manager of Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), says: “AFEM welcomes the end of all legal Covid-19 regulations and the move to guidance announced in the UK today. However, the fragility of the chain of businesses and individuals which make up the electronic music club and events ecosystem needs to be recognised. Ongoing support measures will be required to ensure the recovery of this sector, in parallel with industry action to build consumer confidence and ensure a return of audience numbers to all event types in the long term”.

England follows in the footsteps of DenmarkSweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland – all of which have recently announced plans to lift all remaining restrictions.

 


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