Business News Legal Live Business

With lifting of COVID restrictions set to be delayed, live sector calls for more data and financial support

By | Published on Monday 14 June 2021


UK Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson is expected to announce later today that the lifting of current COVID restrictions in England will be pushed back by four weeks. Under the original plan, full capacity shows would have been able to return next week, but that now won’t happen until mid-July because of concerns about the new delta variant of the coronavirus.

The delay will be a considerable blow to the live music and wider night-time industries, which are both eager to get back to full capacity operations as soon as possible.

Reps from across the live sector continue to argue that the results of the government’s own Events Research Programme demonstrate that there is no tangible increased risk of COVID infections at full capacity shows providing some basic logistical measures are put into place. With the prospect of four weeks worth of full capacity shows now being cancelled, live industry reps are demanding that ministers publish the results of the ERP in full.

This weekend Greg Parmley of the live industry trade group LIVE said in a statement: “The government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely. We have spent the last three months participating in, and paying for, full capacity pilot events that gave us this evidence. To protect the future of our industry we are calling for full transparency from the government, for them to release the full report that proves how we can open safely and to work with us to give everyone the summer of music we all want”.

Meanwhile, if another four week delay is unavoidable, the live industry says it will need urgent further financial support from the government.

Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, wrote this weekend: “The issue is not simply about a delay in re-opening or lifting restrictions. It may on the surface look like a short and manageable pause. But there is no provision in place to bridge the resultant funding gap should this occur. Without some certainty on exactly when grassroots music venues can start trading at full capacity again the majority of the sector, already barely surviving on life support, could flat line”.

“This is not an exaggeration”, he added, “with no funding in place to mitigate any delay in reopening we will see mass evictions and foreclosures by landlords and creditors who ran out of patience a long time ago. The risk of business closures, widespread redundancies and the decimation of our sector is as real now as it was in April 2020”.

“Through the incredible work, support and amazing resilience of all those that work in venues, artists, music fans, local councils and central government we have survived everything this pandemic has thrown at us”, he continued. “We are still here. When the Prime Minister addresses the nation [later today] it will be the most important 30 minutes in the entire history of our sector. The government has the tools it needs to avert a disaster, whatever decisions it needs to make”.

He goes on: “It has allocated an additional £300 million to support the cultural sector; the Prime Minister or the Culture Secretary can swiftly announce that this money will be immediately released to tackle the challenges caused by any delay to reopening. They can ensure confidence with a clear statement that they won’t let grassroots music venues go to the wall. Fifteen months ago, Music Venue Trust set out to Save Our Venues and Reopen Every Venue Safely. We need the Prime Minister and the Department For Digital Culture, Media And Sport to do the right thing [today] and give us the certainty the sector needs that that mission can be completed. Don’t fail us now”.

The music industry now awaits with much anticipation to see the specific details of the latest extension of COVID restrictions, and whether any new financial support will be immediately available to help the live and night-time sectors survive this latest challenge.