UK Prime Minister Expected To Go Through With July 19 Reopening, Industry Reacts

Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson gives an update on relaxing restrictions imposed on the country during the coronavirus crisis at a virtual press conference, July 5, 2021, at Downing Street in London, England.
Daniel Leal-Olivas – WPA Pool/Getty Images
– Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson gives an update on relaxing restrictions imposed on the country during the coronavirus crisis at a virtual press conference, July 5, 2021, at Downing Street in London, England.
England’s pandemic-related social restrictions were originally scheduled to end on June 21 before being postponed to July 19.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons said in a July 5 press conference that he expects to lift all remaining restrictions on social gatherings on July 19, the long-hoped-for step four of the country’s roadmap out of lockdown. Here’s a selection of statements from the UK’s live sector.

The return of live comes, as UK industry body LIVE points out, “after over a year of almost total closure.”
Finally, the country’s £4.6 billion ($6.4 billion) industry is expected to return at full capacity on July 19, a month later than in the UK’s original plan for moving the country out of lockdown. 
Johnson failed to guarantee the date, of course, as authorities intend to review the vaccination, case and infection numbers again by July 12, when a final decision on the July 19 reopening date is due.
So, while there’s still some uncertainty surrounding this vital date, today’s press announcement marks “a significant moment for the industry, which has been devastated during the pandemic,” losing 85% of revenue in 2020,  according to the LIVE statement.
The body points out that important issues remain that need to go hand in hand with a definite reopening date, if this industry is supposed to get back on its feet again.
Skindred live on stage at Download PILOT at Donington Park, England, June 20, 2021.
Katja Ogrin/Getty Images
– Skindred live on stage at Download PILOT at Donington Park, England, June 20, 2021.
The 10,000 capacity festival was part of the UK’s Events Research Programme, which so far shows no substantial risk of virus transmissions at large-scale live events.

They include a government backed insurance scheme, which will allow live professionals to plan events despite the risk of being shut down at the eleventh hour. As LIVE points out, “the commercial insurance market has failed with regards to Covid cancellation cover,” so it’s up to government “to prevent irreversible damage.”

Another important issue pertains to the isolation requirements currently part of the UK government’s track-and-trace program, which forces individuals into self-isolation if they’ve been in contact with a COVID case.
If this policy remains in place, it will make a sustainable reopening for this industry impossible. “Whilst companies will work to provide a COVID-secure environment for performers and crew, the inevitable increase in rates would lead to many having to self-isolate despite having been vaccinated and testing negative,” the statement from LIVE explains. Without an exception to this policy for live crew and staff, “shows will have to be cancelled unnecessarily at the last-minute, costing millions of pounds and potentially thousands of jobs.”
LIVE CEO Greg Parmley commented, “The live music industry is very pleased with the prime minister’s statement, and it seems we will finally see a return to full capacity performances on July 19. We have watched the rest of the economy reopen while our doors have been forced to remain closed since the start of the pandemic, but today’s announcements will generate considerable excitement amongst music fans across the country.
Greg Parmley.
– Greg Parmley.
Head of ILMC and CEO of the UK’s live industry body LIVE.

“To save the rest of the Summer and Autumn schedule we now desperately need a government-backed insurance scheme to provide the security required to invest in events. Government ministers have repeatedly said that a scheme would be announced once the legal barriers to full performances were removed. Well, we are now almost at that point and there must be no further delay if we are to reap the benefits of the superb vaccine roll-out.”

More comments below.
Mark Davyd, CEO of the UK Music Venue Trust: “This is obviously extremely welcome news for millions of live music fans, for artists, crew, venues and local communities who have been deprived of music for so long. Since March 2020, Music Venue Trust’s aim has been to Reopen Every Venue Safely. We have been working alongside the grassroots music venue sector throughout to identify methods by which we can do that, regardless of any current government guidelines and resulting limitations and restrictions. The keyword for us and the sector throughout these long difficult months has been ‘safely’.
“This announcement is hugely important and provides the opportunity to revive live music. It does not, however, change the central mission or the importance of the word ‘safely’. We are re-energizing our efforts to work with our fantastic network of grassroots music venues to ensure that what each of them delivers to the public meets the highest standards of COVID security and safety within the new guidelines.”
Phil Bowdery
Live Nation
– Phil Bowdery
executive president of Touring, international at Live Nation

Phil Bowdery, Chairman of Concert Promoters Association: “I am delighted that the Government has made the right choice today, letting the much-loved live music sector get back to doing what it does best.

“While we absolutely cannot wait to safely welcome back our fans, we are missing one piece of the puzzle – insurance. We need a government backed scheme to provide the security needed to start investing in events over the coming months, shoring up our industry and stimulating the wider economy as we build back following the pandemic.”
Paul Reed, CEO for the Association for Independent Festivals: “We welcome the prime minister’s statement and that large events including festivals are expected to be able take place from July 19. It is positive for organisers, fans and artists alike that there will be some activity this year, though clearly it is too late for the estimated 56% of UK festivals that have already been forced to cancel and are still awaiting details of emergency funding and the next round of the Culture Recovery Fund. 
“We now urge government to finally act on insurance and announce a government-backed scheme immediately. Insurance remains the key obstacle to planning with confidence and there is no rationale for not implementing such a scheme if the Government’s roadmap is truly irreversible. 
“We also need to ensure there is clear guidance for organizers and local authorities no later than July 12, so that events don’t unravel at a local level. We ask that Government also explore solutions for staff that will be affected by test and trace and isolation policies working at events this summer.”
David Keighley, chair of the Production Services Association: “It’s really good to hear from our Prime Minister that we can hopefully and finally get back to normal after the 19th of July. The concert touring, festivals and events sector of our economy have been the hardest hit by Covid. We were the first to stop and we are only now being allowed to reopen. We must all be truly thankful for the vaccines as this is the reason we can almost get back to normal.”
Michael Kill, CEO Night Time Industries Association: “We have been encouraged by much of what the Prime Minister said today about what government restrictions will look like in the next phase of reopening. The end of social distancing; the end of the rule of six and table service for indoor mixing; no ban on mass events; the removal of the need to scan a QR code to enter venues; and the decision not to introduce COVID status certification – these are all very important steps that we have been campaigning for, because they are the restrictions which have decimated the night time economy over the last sixteen months.
“We were disappointed again, despite the positive noises, that the prime minister did not confirm that reopening would be going ahead on the 19th of July. As we commented at the time of the last decision on restrictions, one week is simply not enough time for businesses to plan to reopen – and it betrays the sense that the Government doesn’t understand what it takes to reopen a businesses after over a year without trading.
“To hear the Prime Minister say that we need to learn to live with this virus is a long overdue step, and will be a relief to our sector. It is difficult to overstate the significance of the impact the pandemic has had on this industry. The Government’s support package has been important but insufficient. After 479 days closed, we now need that counter set to zero so we can start to rebuild.”