Edu Hawkins/Redferns via Getty Images – Esperanza Spalding performs at The Sage Gateshead, which is struggling like many UK venues.
The picture was taken at the International Jazz Festival 2014, when live music was still everywhere.
Second Try: UK Allows Indoor Concerts
Indoor venues in the UK will finally be able to reopen at capacities that make sure people can maintain the mandated distance, which is one meter in England, and two meters in Scotland and Wales (with exceptions in some premises).
Venue operators and promoters, albeit sceptic about the economic viability of distanced shows, had been hopeful that live music venues would be able to reopen Aug. 1.
However, on the day before, July 31, the country’s prime minister Boris Johnson postponed the reopening date by two weeks, citing the Covid developments around the world, and a likelihood of “the prevalence of the virus in the community in England rising for the first time since May.”
Now, it looks like the new Aug. 15 target date will be kept, indoor spaces will indeed be allowed to host concerts again.
The UK’s Music Venue Trust has long stated that the country’s grassroots venues wouldn’t realistically be able to open prior to October.
As long as governments deem singing, dancing and human closeness “high-risk activities,” grassroots music venues won’t have a business model to operate on. MVT’s stance in a nutshell: These businesses, which operate on tight margins, cannot afford to experiment with different reopening scenarios over months on end. They need to be able to reopen under clear guidelines or not at all.
MVT released an updated statement today, Aug. 14:
“Unfortunately, it remains the case that the vast majority of grassroots music venue are not financially able, or even have the physical premises layout, to deliver these newly permitted events. Those that can make social distancing work will be unlikely to be able to stage government compliant events tomorrow with this much notice.
“However, despite the challenges the announcement presents, we broadly welcome this progress towards the return of live music. If gigs are going to return in stages, which is the government plan, then we have reached stage 4 of that plan and can begin to imagine that stage 5, real gigs at real venues, might be achievable in the foreseeable future.
“Those English venues that can create events that comply with this new guidance, about 100 across the country of the 900 currently closed, will be hugely relieved to finally be able to open their doors in the coming weeks. We hope that the public will support the events that can now happen.
“While this announcement has limited impact on grassroots music venues, or their ability to stage events, it is progress within the government’s plan towards the outcome everybody wants, that we Reopen Every Venue Safely.”
Eventbrite seized the latest UK gov announcement to promote its personalised online tickets, which could help with “potential tracking and tracing efforts after an event has ended.”
The VP of Eventbrite Europe, Joel Crouch, commented: “We’re encouraged to learn that the safe reintroduction of indoor live events has now been approved, allowing event creators to continue to rebuild the UK’s live events industry.
“While event creators and producers are at the helm of creating safe experiences, we believe event safety is a community effort: it can only be achieved if everyone involved, including attendees but also ticketers like us, does their part.”
Update (Aug. 14, 7.55 a.m.): The UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has reacted as well, saying that the eased lockdown was still “a long way off being back to normal for many businesses in the night time economy and events sector.”
Chiming with the assessment MVT has made regarding the economic viability of opening with distancing mandates in places, the NTIA statement continues:
“While some bars and restaurants have been able to open with a limited capacity, many are only just breaking even and we expect live music venues and performance spaces to have similar issues with viability, only able to accommodate for limited numbers under the current Government social distancing measures.
“We still have many questions with regard to the operational conditions for opening these businesses, but would urge the Government to consider a more robust communication strategy with a realistic timeframe to allow businesses the opportunity to prepare for opening.
“Nightclubs & Venues have once again been excluded from this announcement, but for a footnote to highlight that they must remain closed.
“By the end of September 2020 we will see 70% of nightclubs and venues in the UK close for good, with thousands of jobs lost without a clear roadmap for re opening and further financial support during this extended period of lockdown.”
– Concerts at Blausee, Switzerland.
Promoter Gadget has developed a safety concept for the event, which is capped at 1,000.
Switzerland Lifts 1,000-Cap Limit From October
Meanwhile the Swiss government announced that live events with more than 1,000 people would be allowed again from October – under strict safety measures.
Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons, which will have the final say in determining whether any given event should be allowed to take place.
Health and safety measures will differ between types of events, of course, but they need to be “reliable, efficient and economically viable,” according to a statement from Swiss promoter Gadget.
The promoter is already realising concerts with up to 1,000 guests in the country, for instance four shows with Swiss rock icons Patent Ochsner, whose most recent tour got cut short due to government restrictions in reaction to Covid.
The band will perform four concerts, Sept. 8-11. The 1,000 tickets available for each night, are separated into different categories, each with a separate access way from the main entrance to the stage, where guests will be standing in separate zones.
There’s a limited amount of tickets for wheelchair users, as well as standing and seated VIP dinner tickets at a premium.