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UK open for business as quarantine axed for int’l artists

International performers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States or European Union will no longer need to quarantine after entering England from Monday, the British government has announced.

The change, which comes into force at 4am BST on 2 August, will see the replacement of mandatory quarantine with a single Covid-19 test before departing their country of origin and a PCR test on the second day after their arrival in England. The new rules apply to all countries rated ‘amber’ for coronavirus risk, with the exception of travellers from France, who will still be required to quarantine.

In addition to the pre-departure test, arrivals from the US will also need to provide proof of US residency.

In a statement, LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), which represents the UK’s live music business, welcomes the move, saying it will enable foreign artists to play shows and festivals in England in the coming months.

“We are extremely pleased to see that government has taken the decision to allow people into the UK without the need to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated in Europe or the USA,” says a LIVE spokesperson. “This will allow international artists to perform at our world-leading festivals and venues over the coming months and will provide a vital boost to our iconic live music industry as we come out of lockdown.”

To take advantage of the changes, artists will need to have taken a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency or the US Food and Drug Administration (ie Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) and been vaccinated in either the EU or US.

“This will allow international artists to perform at our world-leading festivals and venues over the coming months”

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps says: “We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel, and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade, this is progress we can all enjoy.

“We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data, but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours.”

It is not known when Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (which, unlike England, have devolved local governments) will follow suit in doing away with mandatory quarantine.

A Scottish government spokesperson tells the Scotsman it will wait for a whole-of-UK solution before opening Scotland’s borders, and warns against travel for leisure: “We aim to come to a four-nations position on international travel restrictions wherever possible. However, our current position remains international travel for holidaying purposes remains risky and subject to sudden change.

“We have said before people should think very carefully about travelling, and especially so given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern.”

 


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

New funding rounds announced in UK

Millions of pounds worth of further grants and loans have been made available in England and Scotland to help the UK live industry recover from Covid-19.

Arts Council England (ACE) has opened applications for a second round of repayable finance for culturally significant organisations in England.

The programme, which is part of the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF), aims to support those organisations as they transition back to a ‘viable and sustainable operating model’ during the 2021/22 financial year.

The budget for the second round is up to £100 million and the minimum amount that can be applied for is £1m. The final round of CRF grants, totalling around £300m, are expected to open for applications in early January.

Organisations who have previously been awarded a CRF loan are not eligible to apply for further CRF loans, while previously successful grant applicants can.

Last week, the Government and ACE announced the first-round recipients of the repayable finance scheme which included London venues the Royal Albert Hall (£20.74m) and Southbank Centre, while Alexandra Palace (pictured) was awarded £2,967,600 from the £60m Capital Kickstart Fund. The latest grants and loans marked a milestone £1bn in funding allocated.

Elsewhere, the Scottish government has announced an extra £13 million to provide further support for the events sector in Scotland.

Of this, £6 million has been committed for the establishment of a new fund which will open this week to support those event businesses which are critical to Scotland’s events sector, and without which the capacity to deliver major events would be significantly reduced.

“This [£13m] will help hard-pressed businesses going forward and ensure that they are ready to support the recovery”

The Pivotal Event Businesses Fund will provide grants from £25,000 up to a maximum of £150,000 to support approximately 50 to 100 event businesses whose primary role as organisers, suppliers, contractors and venues is critical to the survival of the events sector in Scotland, and upon whom the wider events industry and supply chain are most reliant for their own business and operations.

The remaining funding will be used to set up a separate fund to provide broader support to businesses across the full range of the events sector, including the supply chain, and will be announced early in the new year.

The latest funding follows the £10 million announced by the culture secretary in July for the events industry, of which £6 million was allocated to the now-closed Event Industry Support Fund while £2 million was allocated to Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund currently being run by EventScotland.

“The events sector has faced severe challenges throughout 2020 as the restrictions necessary to contain the coronavirus pandemic have left most businesses unable to operate. While the arrival of a vaccine offers grounds for hope, the events sector and its wider supply chain will continue to experience difficulties for some time to come,” says culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

“We were able to provide financial support for the events sector in the autumn but we have continued to listen and we acknowledge that further funding is required. This additional £13 million will allow us to help hard-pressed businesses going forward and ensure that they are ready to support the recovery when it is safe to operate again.

“Scotland has a well-earned reputation for delivering successful events at local, national and international level. We are working collaboratively with the industry to ensure that the sector has a future to look forward to and that we maintain our position as the perfect stage for events.”

 


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Live streams exempted from new UK lockdown

The new lockdown measures which come into force in England tomorrow (5 November) will not affect upcoming livestreamed concerts, the UK culture secretary has confirmed.

In a Twitter thread, Oliver Dowden, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sports (DCMS), explained that venues are places of work (people in England are still allowed to travel to work where necessary) and so are exempt from the restrictions, which come to an end on 2 December.



Venues are also allowed to open for rehearsals during the lockdown period.

Among the high-profile streaming concerts taking place in England during lockdown are Niall Horan and Kylie Minogue, a double header for concert streaming specialist Driift, which take place at the Royal Albert Hall London and in a specially created digital world, respectively.

ATC Management’s Ric Salmon, the CEO of Driift, tells IQ he’s “delighted livestreaming has an exemption, and that all Driift shows will continue as planned, including Niall Horan and Kylie Minogue this Saturday, and the Vamps on 21 November 21.

“Given the disruption everyone’s currently facing elsewhere, it’s absolutely crucial that artists, musicians, crew and all in the wider music sector can still have this outlet for work, and we can keep building what is proving to be a vibrant and long-term business that audiences love.”

 


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Outdoor events get go-ahead in England

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.

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.