The U.K. government will begin allowing indoor concerts to resume in England beginning on August 1st, as the fourth stage in the country’s five stage reopening plan for the arts begins.
The step forward was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and confirmed by culture secretary Oliver Dowden last week. In accordance with government regulations, venues will be required to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
Beginning on August 1st, indoor venues across England will be able to reopen the public and once again begin holding concerts. Yet these events will be a far cry from what audiences remember, as promoters will be required to operate at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing at all times and change many operational procedures.
While the guidelines released by the government do not place a hard capacity percentage, they make clear that all venues should adjust sales accordingly. In addition to audiences, performers are also required to maintain a safe distance, which could prove problematic for orchestras.
Additionally, the guidelines state that “Performances should be scheduled to allow sufficient time to undertake deep cleaning before the next audience arrives,” which may also prove difficult considering the tight load in, load out times to which many industry professionals are accustomed. Management will also be required to place floor markings where lines of people traditionally form to encourage social distancing, as well as moving to all-online ticketing that encourages paperless transactions to stop the spread of germs. Online ticketing can also be utilized by law enforcement in order to construct a chain of infection, should an outbreak occur.
Yet, there are some venues that most likely will not be able to open under these conditions, as BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said it makes “no financial sense for many venues to open with social distancing rules in place; theatre budgets tend to be based on a break-even of around 70% capacity. If social distancing measures mean a theatre can only run at 20-25% capacity, the producer cannot afford to put the show on.”
Earlier this month, the U.K. government announced a nearly $2 billion stimulus package for the arts throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But as tight regulations on live music continue, it is unclear how long that will keep venues in business.
Click here to see the full safety guidelines.