Reading & Leeds boss says “everyone will be tested” for coronavirus at next year’s festival

"We don’t need a vaccination because we can work through the problem with a really good testing regime. We’ll be able to do this by next year"

Reading & Leeds boss Melvin Benn has revealed that “everyone will be tested” for coronavirus at next year’s festival.

After this year’s edition was cancelled due to COVID-19, the first names on the line-up for Reading & Leeds 2021 were announced last night – with Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age all topping the bill at the event’s first run at having two main stages and six headliners.

Speaking to NME last week before the announcement, Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn discussed how R&L would be tackling the challenge of coronavirus next summer.

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“COVID has given us a year off, so the innovation for next year is testing – everybody will be tested,” Benn told NME.

The Wombats at Leeds Festival 2019. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Redferns

He continued: “We don’t need a vaccination because we can work through the problem with a really good testing regime. We’ll be able to do this by next year. If there is a vaccine, there will be sufficient for the old and the vulnerable. Young people can resist it. The government know that now. In March and April, they didn’t know that. Everybody was shit-scared and that’s inevitable, but as we’ve learned more, we know the strong and healthy are able to survive it.”

After saying that he was “very confident” that festival season 2021 would go ahead, as well as that he thought it would be “remarkably similar to what it’s always been like”, Benn explained that he believed widespread testing and tracing will be “the new norm” by next summer – and that he was working towards his Full Capacity Plan for reopening bars, venues, festivals and events.

“It will probably be the government’s version of the Full Capacity Plan, which is even bigger than what mine was,” he continued. “There will be some sort of test. By the time August 2021 comes around, it will take 10 minutes. You can see the kids outside doing it – who can neck a pint quickest, who can do a test quickest?

“It will all be automated on phones. We’re in a stage where technology can really help, and the Reading & Leeds audience really understand technology. I have no pessimism about it. Of course we’ll overcome it. This year everyone was too scared – but we understand it now.”

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Tickets for Reading & Leeds 2021 will go on sale at 9am on Thursday (September 3) and will be available to purchase here.

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