The British government has officially given outdoor concerts and theater performances the greenlight to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning tomorrow, July 11th, outdoor theater performances and outdoor concerts can recommence with socially distanced crowds in England. (The other United Kingdom nations are following their own reopening guidelines; Northern Ireland will host Europe’s first socially distanced music festival next month.) To be sure, British government officials are encouraging citizens to “Enjoy Summer Safely” by patronizing their favorite establishments once again.
Additionally, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is working with “sector representative bodies” to test indoor concerts, which will presumably lay the groundwork for the eventual full-scale return of indoor shows.
Most of the safety recommendations for the outdoor concerts appear to be in line with those that govern non-concert activities in the UK, including dining and shopping.
Attendees are still encouraged to maintain social distancing – two meters, or over 6.5 feet – between the individuals they arrive with (up to six persons) and others, per the most recently released guidelines. Organizers, for their part, are tasked with “implementing sufficient controls to ensure social distancing is maintained” between each audience group.
In terms of steps that “will usually be needed” from promoters, the British government mentions reducing the number of sold tickets and the total venue capacity, arranging seats in a way that makes it possible for guests to maintain social distancing, and discouraging performances “that may encourage audience behaviours that increase transmission risk.”
Refreshment counters and other high-traffic areas should be regularly disinfected, per the guidelines, and e-tickets (or contactless-payment ticketing) are also recommended. Significantly, the reopening guidance chiefly concerns measures that should “usually” be implemented, seemingly granting organizers a great deal of leeway in terms of how they go about keeping attendees safe.
As part of this comprehensive effort to revitalize the live event sphere, which has suffered unprecedented losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government unveiled a $1.9 billion rescue package for local entertainment industries – including music venues.
In the U.S., some states are currently allowing socially distanced concerts, and a select few locations are enabling (admittedly controversial) traditional concerts to resume with minimal social distancing measures in place. All across the country, however, drive-in concerts and films have experienced a dramatic popularity uptick. Blake Shelton, Trace Atkins, and Gwen Stefani announced a one-night-only drive-in performance yesterday, and Walmart has partnered with Tribeca Enterprises to convert 160 of its stores’ parking lots into drive-in theaters this summer.