Live sector welcomes end of Covid restrictions as new festivals launch for 2022

Live sector welcomes end of Covid restrictions as new festivals launch for 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the end of Covid restrictions as part of a plan for living with the pandemic. 

Over the last two years, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the music business and the livelihoods of workers, particularly in the live sector.

From February 24, people with Covid will no longer be legally required to self-isolate, although guidance will remain for those who test positive to stay at home for five days. Routine contact tracing will end.

The UK returned to Plan A last month and removed certain restrictions and controls on events. Covid passes for concerts have been voluntary since then.

From April 1, Covid tests will no longer be free for everyone and the use of Covid passports will no longer be recommended other than for international travel.  

Greg Parmley, CEO of trade body LIVE, said: “The end of Covid-19 restrictions represents a huge, welcome relief to the live music sector, which lost billions in revenue throughout the pandemic. But with spiralling costs and thousands of companies struggling with pandemic debt, it’s crucial that government does not abandon and set the sector adrift, just as it starts to tread water again.

“We are calling for a reverse to the planned hike in VAT rates and the imminent end to business rates relief in order to avoid further business closures and job losses within our sector.”

As the government announced its plan to drop Covid restrictions, a number of festival organisers took the opportunity to launch new events or confirm 2022 plans.

The Royal Highland Centre has been announced as the venue for the newest addition to Scotland’s festival calendar, Connect Music Festival. The DF Concerts & Events festival will take place between August 26-28 and the line-up will be announced tomorrow.

AEG Presents has partnered with local promoter TeamLove on a new two-day festival in Bristol. Forwards will take place on September 3-4 with a line-up including Jamie XX, Chemical Brothers, Little Simz, Kojey Radical and Caribou.

Meanwhile, Festival Republic’s indie rock event Community returns to Finsbury Park on July 16 with Two Door Cinema Club, The Wombats, Nothing But Thieves, Circa Waves and Pale Waves.

It’s crucial that government does not abandon and set the sector adrift

Greg Parmley

But there are warnings about the fragile festival sector.

Paul Reed, CEO, Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), said: "While we welcome legal restrictions around Covid-19 coming to an end and the prospect of a full capacity festival season, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt by the independent festival sector and the need for government action remains. With festival organisers facing crippling cost increases of up to 30% across operations and infrastructure, this is not back to business as usual for festivals, and it is not a case of 'job done' for Ministers.

"AIF reiterates its call for ongoing support from government in the form of continued VAT relief on festival tickets to maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March; and to also explore some form of government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain."

There are also concerns about the club sector following the impact of the pandemic for two years. 

Greg Marshall, general manager, Association For Electronic Music (AFEM), said: “AFEM welcomes the end of all legal Covid-19 regulations and the move to guidance announced in the UK today. However, the fragility of the chain of businesses and individuals which make up the electronic music club and events ecosystem needs to be recognised. 

“Ongoing support measures will be required to ensure the recovery of this sector, in parallel with industry action to build consumer confidence and ensure a return of audience numbers to all event types in the long term.”

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