The return of indoor live music concerts has been delayed by at least two weeks following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Theatres, music halls and other venues closed since the Covid-19 shutdown in March were to be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity in the UK from tomorrow (August 1), but this has now been pushed back to August 15 at the earliest.
"We should now squeeze that brake pedal to keep the virus under control," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a press conference today.
The move comes after the government tightened lockdown measures in parts of the north of England following a rise in infections.
DCMS has been working with the live sector on pilots of performances with socially distanced audiences to inform final guidance for venues in the run up to the restart date, including the London Symphony Orchestra at St Luke’s, London.
Frank Turner also played a successful pilot show at The Grand in Clapham earlier this week. Turner's concert, which also featured Beans On Toast and Ciara Haidar, was held before a crowd of 200 in the 1,250-capacity venue.
“We can’t just launch straight back into how things were in early March, it’s going to be a long, drawn-out process and these shows are the first step on that road,” said Turner, who stars on the cover of this week's issue of Music Week. “It’s a way of demonstrating both to audiences and to venues and indeed to the government that it is possible to do this in a way that is safe for everybody involved."
In the wake of the gig, The Grand's manager Ally Wolf said: "It’s important to say that this pilot, though a successful and great show, is by no means representative of the wider live music venue industry as we are a Variety Hall that provides not only music events, but comedy, bingo, cinema and more.
"We operated this evening on less than 20% capacity; from 1,250 to 200. This paired with vastly increased operational costs to fit with Covid Compliance, without a reduction in any of our fixed overheads, means that we are opening to a loss of revenue, which isn’t sustainable for the future."
Read this week's cover story on the issues facing the UK's grassroots sector here.