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Latest Advice - Covid 19 Restrictions

The latest advice.

I attended a meeting this morning, (13 Dec) organised by LIVE, at which Tom Rodden, the science advisor to DCMS, briefed us on the implications of the current measures being taken to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.  Although there is still much for the scientists to understand about this new variant, Tom said that they expect to have real clarity on the risks it poses over the next couple of weeks.

The Omicron virus appears to be spreading much faster than the Delta virus but there are signs that it causes less severe symptoms and that the booster vaccinations “significantly” reduce the risks.   However, the main concerns at the moment are whether it will lead to the NHS becoming overloaded over the coming weeks – hence the precautions announced by the Government.

Based on the research around events to date, Tom said that the mitigation measures introduced to date – ventilation and face masks - seem to be working.

The meeting also heard that the findings from the Event Research Programme (ERP) suggested that events, including festivals, presented less risk than people meeting in their homes.   He suggested that the research should give greater confidence for events to be allowed to go ahead in future using the mitigating guidance that is already in place.

There are no plans to do further research currently.

Concerns were, however, raised at the meeting about the complications of checking COVID passes at entry to events, particularly given the current shortages of security and stewarding staff.  Eric Stuart (UKCMA) said that these checks were causing lengthy queues at events which are leading to frustration and anger amongst the public which could spill over into wider problems.

DCMS officials said that local authorities could agree to a lower level of checks.

Looking to the future, Tom told the meeting that the Government was keen to see things getting back to normal and he was optimistic that, with the knowledge now gleaned from the ERP, events should be reasonably confident about going ahead in 2022, particularly from March onwards once the country has got through the peak season for flu.  (with thanks to Jim Winship EIF for this summary )

On to the next meeting

The DCMS meeting was followed by an Open LIVE meet that discussed the above issues (what a way to spend the whole morning ).

We were briefed by colleagues from Scotland, from giant arenas to tiny music clubs. They have had this in place for several weeks . The agreed report was that although covid passport checking was unwieldy and rejected by the customers in the first week or so, it then settled down and gradually became much easier to operate. Clearly a few more staff were needed , even at the small venue, but once the system was in place it ran smoothly. To 95% of the people and the time.

The real key to this is COMMUNICATION . Customers must know in advance what to expect when they arrive at the venue. They are well used to getting tickets ready, now you must tell them in advance on their ticket conformation that the first thing that will happen on arrival will be the Covid check, then the ticket check. Clearly this will not work directly for walk up customers , but they found out about the Gig somewhere and it’s at that somewhere that you must tell them how entry will work.

Double the get in time. Get the venue ready earlier than usual. Stop the band rehearsing and insist on sound check only. Talk to the queue and keep them informed.

This covid checking is for their safety  and once it is up and running it will be accepted by 95% of customers and those who do not wish to conform are no longer your customers.

I could say the good news is ….but in real terms this is all good news…. It is far better than Lockdown and allows us to keep the show on the road. Get used to it….. it will not go away for some considerable time.

Yes there is some more good news. In the original Plan B , government were stuck on a passport only ie you had to have had double jabs.  After much lobbying ,meetings and negotiating they added “a lateral flow test (LFT)  NEGATIVE”

would also allow entry to the venue. All the above proof of clear covid safety has to be shown on the NHS or equivalent international APPS. No private schemes, no swapping and sharing the data (though who with a sensible attitude would want to).

For full details of the plan that will be passed in Parliament on Tuesday 14th Dec. see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do.

It is a tough time we are in, but made easier by the endless fighting , lobbying and negotiation by AFO and the many other associations that make up LIVE (well worth every penny.. See elsewhere for how you can help to pay for this amazing work )

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 14th Dec 2021 09:22:00

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