Trial gig with no social distancing to pilot reopening of UK live events

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3 min read
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 11: Atmopshere / Crowd during the 2019 Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 11, 2019 in San Francisco, California. Photo: imageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
The UK government is gearing up for a summer of outdoor events without social distancing. Photo: imageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX

A Blossoms gig will be among the first live events without social distancing or face coverings allowed in the UK this year, as the nation gears up for a summer of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. 

The band will play to a crowd of 5,000 in Liverpool on 2 May in a trial event at Sefton Park — gaining admission with a negative coronavirus test. 

Normal capacity for the outdoor venue is 7,500. 

The near-normal event will come alongside others such as the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton at London's Wembley Stadium, which will host a crowd of 4,000 this evening as part of a series of government trial events.

The music and live events industries have been in near-total lockdown since the start of last year, as waves of coronavirus infections shut down the UK. Large events such as Glastonbury have already said they wont run this year, however a plethora of other events have committed to going ahead if they can when the economy fully reopens. 

Earlier this week, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival said it would run in August as venues were given the green light to return. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the results from the concert would "inform our approach to ensuring future big events can take place safely."

Other trials were announced earlier in April. The government said test events would also include the FA Cup final, the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield and a mass participation run in Hertfordshire.

The trials will test the viability of a system that could allow the UK's economy to open up again before the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations to all age groups.

Officials are trying to find a way for venues to open without social distancing.

READ MORE: UK hospitality sector soars this weekend as Brits enjoy lifted lockdown restrictions

The passes would include information on whether someone has a negative test, is fully vaccinated or has natural immunity from having caught the virus within the last six months.

The government has also previously confirmed there will be a "traffic light" system when foreign holidays return.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "We're one step closer to a summer of live events now our science-led programme is under way.

"Testing different settings and looking at different mitigations is key to getting crowds back safely."

"I hope it won't be too much longer until gigs are back for good."

If the "roadmap" out of lockdown is kept on track in England legal limits on social contact may be lifted by 21 June.

The trials also come amid calls from leaders of the UK's biggest hospitality businesses for prime minister Boris Johnson to stick with England's current roadmap out of lockdown. 

The letter from chief executives of Mitchells & Butlers, Fuller's, Young's, JD Wetherspoon, Pizza Hut and Alton Towers owner Merlin, said two-thirds of hospitality venues "couldn't open outdoors from 12 April" and that "none is breaking even."

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