What Leeds Festival could look like in 2021 under Covid restrictions - according to UK Music report

A report by UK Music has outlined what festivals in Britain need to do to go ahead this year under Covid-19 restrictions.

By Shawna Healey
Thursday, 21st January 2021, 4:45 pm
Leeds Festival in 2018
Leeds Festival in 2018

Leeds Festival is currently still going ahead as planned with dates set for Thursday August 26 to Sunday August 29 at Bramham Park, where it has been held since 2003.

Headlining the festival is Manchester native Liam Gallagher, Londoner Stormzy, rock band Catfish and the Bottle Men and American rapper Post Malone.

The festival, which launched in 1999, is important economically to the region.

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Live music and festivals in Yorkshire and the Humber account for £264 million in the local economy each year, supporting almost 3,000 jobs.

In a statement, Leeds Festival organisers said: “At this time, Leeds Festival is still going ahead as planned. Please be assured that the safety and health of all staff and visitors, is our main priority and we are implementing recommendations and instructions appropriately.

"We are closely monitoring official guidance from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England, UK Government, local public health authorities and are working with event promoters and organisers as information evolves.”

UK Music, a campaigning and lobbying group representing the music and events industry, is calling for the Government to create official guidance for how to hold events safely this year.

According to the report, the best way to support and protect the live music sector is to get it back on its feet and enable it to start generating income again.

But until vaccines are fully rolled out, measures must be taken to reduce the risk of transmission.

Chief executive for UK Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said: “We argue that the music industry will have a key role to play in the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery, and therefore it is in the national interest for the sector to be supported and helped back to normal.”

The music industry has been looking at all options to reduce the risk of transmission, the report says.

Ongoing work on mitigating the risk of Covid-19 in music spaces rests on three ideas: guidance, testing, and ventilation and pathogen reduction systems.

There is also a call for a government-backed insurance scheme.

Here are the findings of the report in full:

Guidance

The music industry is working closely with the Government to develop guidance and clear protocols to enable live music events to return safely.

The current restrictions are defined by the Hands, Face, Space approach. This requires regular handwashing, wearing of face coverings and maintaining a two-metre distance from non-household members.

From a health perspective, the report says that ensuring that all individuals comply with HFS is difficult and from an economic perspective it prevents most festivals from reaching the capacity they need to be profitable.

To financially preserve the future of these events and festivals through the pandemic and to better protect public health, UK Music proposes enhanced approaches to apply to non-socially distanced events.

However, it says it is critical that innovations and suggestions made by industry to make this possible have an impact on Government guidance where their efficacy can be demonstrated.

Testing

Engaging with rapid testing to eventually bring back full capacity crowds, the report says.

This requires proof of concept, conducting testing pilots with social distancing, then gradually building up to full capacity.

A festival or venue could in the long-term allow restrictions to be relaxed inside venues and festivals, as well as support the Government’s overarching Covid-19 strategy by forcing asymptomatic carriers to take a test, alerting them to the fact they have tested positive and allowing them to self-isolate.

Ventilation and pathogen reduction systems

There are several ventilation systems on the market that reduce the risk of transmission by improving airflows.

However, the report found that unless they are recognised or validated by the Government then there is no incentive for industry to invest in them.

Introduction of a Government-backed reinsurance scheme

The live music sector has drafted a proposal for a reinsurance scheme which would cover events from any re-opening dates in 2021 to December 2022.

The promoter or venue would pay into a Covid-19 fund, to be matched by the Government, in addition to an additional premium paid by the insurance industry.

This Covid-19 fund would sit separate to the usual cancellation claims and would pay out in the event of a Covid-19 enforced cancellation.

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