Government gives go-ahead for outdoor shows with social distancing

Government gives go-ahead for outdoor shows with social distancing

The government has given the go-ahead for outdoor shows to resume with social distancing from Saturday (July 11).

It will also work with sector bodies including the Musicians' Union and venues such as London Palladium to pilot a number of small indoor performances with a social distanced audience to help inform plans about how best to get indoor venues back up and running. The news follows the £1.57 billion arts rescue package unveiled by the government last weekend. 

A change in planning rules will also mean theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues will be protected from demolition or change of use by developers. 

Our culture, heritage and arts are too precious to lose

Oliver Dowden

"Our culture, heritage and arts are too precious to lose," said culture secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured). "That’s why we’re protecting venues like theatres from redevelopment if they fall on hard times.

"We are also giving further clarity on restart dates in our roadmap back to performance. From July 11 we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing and we are working hard to get indoor audiences back as soon as we safely can, following pilots. Our scientific research project will also help speed up this journey.

"Combined with our £1.57bn rescue package, this is a comprehensive plan to help our brilliant arts organisations weather the covid storm and bounce back stronger."

Live Nation has already announced Utilita Live From The Drive-In, a series of live drive-in concerts across 12 venues, from the end of July until September, and Virgin Money Unity Arena will launch at Newcastle Racecourse, Gosforth Park, on August 14-15.

The Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published new guidance to help performing arts organisations, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can return to work while keeping their audiences safe. All venues will be instructed to produce risk assessments and review their cleaning regimes.

The Secretary of State has also commissioned a scientific study on the risks associated with singing and brass instruments in partnership with Public Health England, musicians from the Royal Opera House and the BBC and scientists from Imperial College, London and Bristol University. 

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