Gig-goers encouraged to take COVID test as ‘freedom day’ arrives in England

The #TakeATest campaign is being spearheaded by the Music Venue Trust

Independent venues across England have encouraged gig-goers to take a COVID test before returning to watch live music on ‘freedom day’.

As part of the government’s unlocking plan, nightlife has today (July 19) returned in England without social distancing or capacity limits as the country enters the fourth and final stage of its route out of lockdown.

A large number of nightclubs held special opening parties last night, opening their doors as the restrictions were lifted at midnight.

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However, venues are now asking attendees to take a COVID test in order to prevent the spread of the virus at unrestricted event.

The campaign is being spearheaded by the Music Venue Trust (MVT), who wrote on Twitter: “The artists are taking a test. The crew are taking a test. The staff are taking a test. That just leaves you, the audience to make your decision. Please play your part and help us to Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

Backing their calls, East London’s Sebright Arms wrote: “We’re encouraging anyone coming to the venue to #takeatest before arriving – it helps support the return of live music and keeps others safe! Be kind: Be respectful. Be part of the live music community.”

Portsmouth’s Wedgwood Arms added: “Be kind, protect others.” You can see a selection of other venues backing the cause in full below.

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MVT CEO Mark Dayvd said: “We have spoken at length to our community about reopening venues safely as restrictions are lifted, and whilst there are differing opinions on some aspects of how we will achieve this there is a consensus about asking music fans to accept personal responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.

“We have an opportunity through this strong, unified #takeatest messaging across the live music sector to persuade audiences to accept that responsibility and to take a lateral flow test before attending. This is a voluntary initiative that speaks to the sense of community across the grassroots live music sector. We are confident that live music fans will respond positively to this direct appeal from venues, promoters, artists and their fellow gig-goers.”

Speaking to NME earlier this month, NTIA boss Michael Kill said that the challenge for nightclubs in terms of reopening “is to be responsible”.

“We have to be realistic in terms of protecting our staff and customers while retaining some key protocols and really consider the government guidance. We need to do our part,” he said. “We can’t just say: ‘The doors are open – let’s run’. Let’s proceed with caution.”

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