UK Government Unveils List of Pilot Events To Bring Back Audiences

London's world-famous Wembley Stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match between England and Poland, March 31, 2021.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
– London’s world-famous Wembley Stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match between England and Poland, March 31, 2021.
The stadium will host a live audience again for the first time since around a year at the April 18 FA Cup semi-finals.

The UK government announced a series of pilot events across different genres of live entertainment, in order to gather scientific data and stay on track with its roadmap out of lockdown.

The UK is still aiming for a lifting of all restrictions on social gatherings by June 21, which would mark step number four in a four-step reopening schedule.
The most prominent events of the pilot scheme may be two soccer matches both taking place at London’s Wembley Stadium: the EFL Cup Final, April 25, which is to have 8,000 supporters, and the FA Cup semi-final, April 18, hosting an audience of 4,000. 
Venues participating in the program will test settings specific to the event and venue in order to gather data and best practices, including different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols. 
For the World Snooker Championships, which are part of the pilot program, April 17-May 3, the famous Crucible in Sheffield, England, will test a theatre setting, for example.
To build up evidence, a number of pilots will include audiences not forced to maintain a distance – “under carefully controlled medical supervision,” as the government points out.
Attendees will be required to take a test before and after the event, adhere to an agreed code of behavior at the point of ticket purchase, and give consent acknowledging the risk associated with attending a pilot event. 
Attendees will not be permitted if they have Covid symptoms, and they will have to provide contact details of everyone in their group for NHS Test and Trace purposes.
Researchers will be on site to monitor crowd movements and behavior in the different environments. Seeing that distancing mandates in particular make it virtually impossible for most venues to operate profitably, researchers will also consider the economic impact of any mitigation measures trialled. 
“Covid-status certification will also be trialled as part of the pilot program,” the government’s press release states.  Other factors researchers will look at include transport to and from events; duration of events; catering and alcohol. 
The full list of pilot events can be found below. The compiled evidence will be shared widely so that venues – from major sport stadiums to comedy clubs, theaters to live music spaces, wedding venues, conference centers and nightclubs – can prepare to accommodate fuller audiences this summer. 
In order to oversee and evaluate these test events, the UK government has launched a science-led Events Research Programme (ERP), which is “working closely with local authorities and organizers.”
The scientific data and research will hopefully show how small and large-scale events can reopen in line with the prime minister’s roadmap out of lockdown, commencing no earlier than 21 June.
The initial list of pilots:
April 16 – Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool – 300 people (indoor seated)
April 18 – FA Cup Semi-Final – Wembley – 4,000 people (outdoor seated)
April 17-May 3 – Snooker World Championships – Sheffield Crucible Theatre – up to 1,000 people a day (indoor seated)
April 23-25 – Luna Outdoor Cinema, Liverpool – 1,000 people (outdoor seated)
April 24-25 – Three 10k runs –  Hatfield Park – 3,000 people and up to 3,000 spectators at each event (outdoor, mass participation run)
April 25 – EFL Cup Final, Wembley – 8,000 people (outdoor, seated)
April 29 – Business Event, Liverpool – 1,000 people (indoor, seated and mixing)
April 30 – Circus Nightclub, Liverpool – circa 3,000 people (indoor club night)
May 15 – FA Cup Final, Wembley, London – 21,000 people (outdoor, seated)
Two of the decision makers departing Downing Street in London, England.
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– Two of the decision makers departing Downing Street in London, England.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock (right), and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General, Oliver Dowden.

The UK’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden commented: “Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely. This science-led pilot program will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance. We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock added: “We are all longing to see stadiums full of sporting fans and gigs packed with music lovers, but as we continue the roll out of our vaccination programme, we must find a way to do so safely.
“By piloting a range of measures to reduce transmission, we can gather vital scientific evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future.
“Thanks to the input of our clinicians and the best science available, we can prepare for the moment where we will be able to gather again in some of our best-loved cultural venues.”
Mark Bullingham, CEO of the UK’s soccer association FA, said: “We are delighted to be hosting three test events at Wembley and are confident we can offer a safe environment. This is an important first step towards getting fans back, with the end goal of full stadia – hopefully by the end of the Men’s Euros. We would like to thank all authorities for their support throughout this process.”
Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL said:
“The Carabao Cup is a prized asset of the EFL, a great competition for clubs to win and always a fantastic occasion so we are absolutely delighted to see supporters back for the showpiece Final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, in what will hopefully be another important milestone along the way to a full return of fans.
“Football has lots of expertise in crowd management so we welcome the opportunity to support the Government in its Events Research Programme and will also take great pride in hosting NHS staff at Wembley, to whom we owe so much for their momentous efforts throughout the pandemic.”
World Snooker Tournament Chairman Barry Hearn OBE said: 
“We are delighted to be part of this Events Research Programme which will help illuminate the path for all of us back towards normal life, by using scientific data.
“This is not just about snooker, it is about hosting live events in indoor settings, so it will also help theatres, concerts and other parts of the entertainment industry. We are proud to have been selected and to play our part.
“We have been chosen because of our exemplary record of staging snooker events over the past year in a safe environment. We have set the standard in the sporting world.
“Our leading players have missed the excitement of walking into an arena packed with fans. The atmosphere at the Crucible is going to be very special.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive for UKHospitality, commented: “These test pilots are certainly positive news for hospitality, and could start to unlock the safe return of business conferences, festivals, concerts and larger weddings, helping people safely return to normal life from 21st June and the removal of social distancing restrictions. Hospitality is ready to assist in any way it can to help the pilots succeed.”