The Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle, England, which made headlines last month as the first major outdoor concert venue to implement a socially-distant audience as a possible strategy to salvage the drowning concert industry, is now being shut down.
On Thursday, venue organizers confirmed that all upcoming shows scheduled at the outdoor venue will no longer take place after Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock cited “Concerning rates of [COVID-19] infection” in the Newcastle region. A Chase & Status performance scheduled for this evening, however, will go on as planned.
“It is extremely disappointing to have to cancel these final shows at the end of what has been an incredible six week run of successfully socially-distanced concerts. We’re honored to have been able to provide a little happiness and joy to thousands of music and comedy fans throughout the region and the UK in what has been such a tough 2020 for everyone.” Venue organizer Steve Davis said in a statement with the announcement on Thursday morning. “Unfortunately, due to the rise of infection in the North East, we must comply with the council’s and the government’s latest advice. This should not take away from the fact that the people of the North East and from all over the world have embraced this pioneering run of shows.”
Initially announced in July, the outdoor venue sponsored by Virgin introduced the concept of welcoming fans to experience a full concert experience without the use of cars by placing small groups in 500 platforms spread across a field. The strategy has since begun to be used by American artists as live music slowly makes an attempted comeback along the eastern U.S. heading into the fall months.