The government has vowed to publish evidence gathered from large music and sporting pilot events “shortly”, after industry figureheads such as Andrew Lloyd Webber vowed to take legal action in an attempt to force their publication.
Events organisers were eagerly anticipating the results of the programme last week ahead of a planned summer of live music, but they were delayed without explanation.
They are now attempting to open up the industry once again, after initial results suggested that attending a live music event posed as much risk of contracting COVID-19 as going shopping.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson told The Guardian: “These pilots provide real-life data so we can fully understand any benefits, problems or challenges with mass events.”
Quizzed why the results had not yet showed up, they replied: “We’re assessing the evidence as we speak.”
The results are likely to appear “shortly”, they added.
The events research programme report is one of four studies that were announced when the reopening roadmap for England was first published in February. Announcing their intention to sue the government earlier today, the live event industries warned of a “stark” short-term risk.
“Research indicates that the potential four-week delay to reopening will lead to around 5,000 live music gigs being cancelled, as well as numerous theatre productions across the country, costing hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income,” they said.
Lord Lloyd-Webber also singled out the decision to let sporting events such as Wimbledon and Euro 2020 go ahead with large audiences, while gigs and theatre productions are being shut off.
“The government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on, whilst cherry-picking high-profile sporting events to go ahead,” said Lord Lloyd-Webber. “The situation is beyond urgent.”
“We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly.”
It comes after leading industry figures accused the government of “pushing live music off a cliff-edge” and endangering the future of the industry by failing to publish the results.
They pointed to reports that apparently just 15 out of 58,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 following the various government-run event trials, which followed a corroborating report that mass events without COVID-19 restrictions are “as risky as going shopping”.
There have also been renewed calls for a government-backed insurance fund to cover live events this summer after this week saw Kendal Calling become the latest in a long line of UK festivals that have been forced to cancel this year.
Kendal Calling organisers said that it was “an insult to the entire industry” to still be waiting for the long-awaited research from the Event Research Programme two months later, combined with the government refusing to provide festival insurance until the industry reopens.