About one week ago, Suffolk’s Latitude Festival returned after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. And though the festival attracted some 40,000 fans across each of its four days, local health officials thus far have identified just 20 or so COVID-19 cases among attendees.
Acts including Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Rick Astley, The Kaiser Chiefs, and Bombay Bicycle Club played Latitude Festival 2021, which was the first major music festival to take place in England after lockdown restrictions were lifted earlier this month. Predictably, following the unprecedented absence of crowd-based entertainment throughout the vast majority of 2020 – as well as several live-music setbacks in 2021 – fans appeared decidedly eager to enjoy the happening’s performances.
Regarding COVID-19 precautions, the outdoor festival required attendees to show that they’d been fully vaccinated against the bug – or, alternatively, that they’d tested negative for the novel coronavirus within the latter 48 hours or self-isolated for at least 10 days after testing positive within the last six months. On this front, medical professionals administered lateral-flow tests on-site at the Latitude Festival, and different medical professionals yet made second AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses available.
Of course, given that these second doses require two weeks to offer full protection from COVID-19 and can cause short-term side effects including “tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s unclear how many Latitude Festival ticketholders took advantage of the offer before or during what was their first music festival in some time.
Nevertheless, the availability of vaccines, along with the seemingly stringent conditions for admission, appear indicative of organizers’ far-reaching desire to minimize health risks and COVID-19 cases at the massive event.
As initially mentioned, the non-socially distanced Latitude Festival (which is already selling tickets for a 2022 follow-up) looks to have been a resounding success in this department. The Suffolk County Council’s director of public health, Stuart Keeble, told BBC today: “From our local data, we are picking up 14 or 20 cases [among festival attendees] but obviously these people who have gone to Latitude will be all over the country and that’s part of the event research programme to try to piece together the impact of it.”
Notwithstanding the fact that many attendees traveled to Suffolk for the Latitude Festival, England recorded about 27,000 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, compared to 50,000 new cases on Saturday, July 17th – before restrictions had been lifted. Almost 90 percent of England’s adults have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with north of 70 percent of adults having received both jabs (for the two-dose vaccines, excluding Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose option, that is).
Lastly, evidence suggests that any largescale COVID-19 outbreaks stemming from live events will quickly enter the spotlight, as was the case earlier this week, when “nearly all” Grateful Shred members tested positive for the disease following an indoor gig. Also worth mentioning is that one of the persons who contracted the bug at Latitude spoke with BBC and relayed that she promptly began quarantining and has experienced mild symptoms.