The government has confirmed that the fourth and final stage of its roadmap for lifting all coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England will go ahead on July 19.
The move means that all social distancing rules and limits on social contact will be removed, paving the way for festivals and indoor concerts to go ahead and for nightclubs to reopen.
As part of the move, businesses and large events organisers will be encouraged to use so-called “COVID passports” – proof of double-vaccination, negative test or recovery from coronavirus – in “high-risk” settings in order to limit the spread of infections in venues.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also today (July 12) encouraged businesses to use the NHS app or an emailed test result as a guidance for entry.
The move has been welcomed across the music industry. Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd told NME: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the decision to permit Grassroots Music Venues in England to open at full capacity from 19 July.
“For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can Reopen Every Venue Safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It’s finally time to Revive Live.
“Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to Revive Live Music, and to show that we can do that safely. Let’s take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE also hailed the relaxing of restrictions. He said: “Today is a fantastic day for live music – our members cannot wait to get back out there and put on the events safely that our fans have been missing this past year.
“While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change. If the government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised, and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”
Parmley continued: “After having lost over 85 per cent of its revenue in 2020, this is a landmark moment for the industry. Events will be able to begin again in earnest, finally bringing much sought-after joy, entertainment and excitement to fans up and down the country.”
AIF CEO Paul Reed also welcomed the decision but he called on the government to resolve the need for government-backed insurance.
He said in a statement: “We welcome the Health Secretary’s confirmation of progressing to Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. Government has repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long overdue resolution to this problem.
“AIF is also working with the relevant Government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including COVID certification where considered appropriate.
“Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.”
Johnson announced details for the fourth and final stage of easing restrictions in England last week but couldn’t confirm they would roll-out on July 19 until a data review was passed.
England’s final exit out of restrictions was originally scheduled for June 21, but was delayed to allow for an increase in coronavirus vaccinations in order to help tackle new variants of the disease.