The UK is set to host its first non-socially distanced gig, as part of a government pilot to help prepare for the return of live music. Taking place on May 2, the event will see a crowd of five thousand people gather in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.
Besides not being required to stick to social distancing guidelines, attendees won’t have to wear face coverings. They will, however, have to take a rapid COVID test at a local testing centre, and provide proof of a negative result to gain entry.
The gig — headlined by Blossoms — will trial the role such facilities could play in the return of large-scale live events, says the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, via the BBC. Attendees will also take a test after the concert to help assess the safety of live music events.
“We’re one step closer to a summer of live events now our science-led programme is under way,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden. “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,” he adds.
Greg Parmley, CEO of the UK live music industry body Live, says the outdoor pilot is: “a hugely positive development and brings the summer festival season one step closer.”
Earlier this week, however, UK festival organisers warned that events face cancellation “within days” if the government doesn’t agree to underwrite a protective insurance scheme, due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus closures. Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, warns that over 90 per cent of the association’s membership feels it can’t risk holding events this year without cover.
Last month (March 27), five thousand music fans also attended an experimental gig at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi concert hall. As in the UK trial, they were allowed to attend following same-day testing and could mix freely, though they were required to wear provided face coverings.
Previous experimental events, such as Barcelona’s PRIMACOV and Germany’s Restart-19 series, have provided positive results. The former resulted in no infection rate, and the latter led researchers to deem the risk at venues “low to very low”, so long as they follow appropriate protocols.