COVID jabs to be offered to revellers as Leeds Festival returns for 2021
Leeds Festival returns this year to what has become an August Bank Holiday tradition following a COVID imposed hiatus.
Thousands of revellers are set to descend on Leeds later today (Thursday) to set up their tents and pitches and get the best seats in the house ahead of the first performances tomorrow and will follow early bird ticket holders who were allowed on site from yesterday.
Queues of traffic were reported on the A64 heading towards the Bramham Park site yesterday and road closures are planned for today, Sunday and Monday on the A64 between the Fox and Grapes public house and the A1(M) / A64 roundabout where it will be closed to all traffic travelling Eastbound.
Topping the line-up is Liam Gallagher who takes to the main stage on Friday night with Oasis classics as well as material from his flourishing career as a solo artist. Other popular acts appearing over the bank holiday weekend are Tom Grennan and Gerry Cinnamon, also on stage tomorrow, as well as Stormzy, Mabel, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Sam Fender playing on Saturday.
Blossoms and The Snuts have also been added to the line up after it was announced that Machine Gun Kelly had dropped out due to logistics.
After being forced to cancel last year due to the COVID pandemic, the festival is back at Bramham Park which has a capacity of 89,999 people.
Organisation for 2021 has had to factor in COVID safety measures as well as extra steps following the drug related death of teenager at the 2019 event.
New measures include a welfare tent situated within the arena - in addition to the usual 'village' tent, Brook - the only national charity to offer both clinical sexual health services and education and wellbeing services for young people - will also be on site this year and a standalone drugs advisory board will also be set up within the arena.
In relation to COVID testing, Melvyn Benn, managing director of Festival Republic which organises the festival, has said there will be Covid testing machines for the site with a "15 minute result".
If anyone tested positive, transport provisions were in place to take them away from the site or if they were "vulnerable and/or can't return home" there would be an "isolated campsite" for them to stay overnight and he had even had discussions with a local hotel in the hope they may take Covid positive attendees for one night.
He said they are "as close to PCR as can be got".
Mr Benn said: "Anybody who tests positive on a lateral flow, if we are in advance we may be separating them, but if anyone presents to medical we are able to give a pretty accurate clarity on whether they are Covid positive or not on site. That benefits the continuity of production and the attendees."
It has also been announced today that revellers will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine as they soak up the atmosphere at the Leeds and Reading festivals this weekend. The pop-up clinics across the two sites this bank holiday weekend mean music lovers will be able to grab a jab as easily as a beer or a burger, health officials said, but they added that people under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be given the vaccine.
The jab offer at this weekend's festivals follows other major efforts to get more young people vaccinated, with jabs available at nightclubs, football stadiums and the circus.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and deputy lead for NHS England’s vaccination programme, said: “More than half a million young people aged 16 and 17 have had their first dose as teams across the country have worked tirelessly to get their communities protected, vaccinating at convenient pop-up clinics in the park, at places of worship and stadiums, and now at Reading and Leeds.
“It is great to see the return of live music and performances, and as festivalgoers head to the main stage this weekend to see their favourite headliners, I am also urging anyone who hasn’t to add the ‘vaccine tent’ to their festival itinerary to get that lifesaving vaccine as the best protection we can get from coronavirus.”
Vaccines will be offered from 10am until 4pm from Friday to Sunday, and from 8am until 11am on Monday. Health professionals will also be available at the Leeds clinic on Thursday between 10am and 4pm for festivalgoers who want to discuss the jab.