Ever since U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared a reopening timeline in February, the live event industry has looked forward to a tentative June 21st return. In light of the Indian COVID-19 variant, however, lawmakers reportedly find it highly unlikely that restrictions imposed on gatherings will lift by then.
Writing for ITV, Robert Peston cited an unnamed government advisor as saying that chances of a full reopening by then are “close to nil.” “It is clear some social distancing will have to be retained; not everything we’ve set out for June 21st is likely to happen,” the individual said. “But it is also possible some of the easing we’ve done today will have to be reversed.”
Neither the advisor nor a minister elaborated on which guidances might remain in place. They said that testing and transmissibility of the Indian COVID-19 variant will weigh on their decision, as will the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine’s efficacy against it.
U.K. bars, nightclubs and venues were forced to close in March of last year as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, and countless festivals were postponed or called off. Some establishments have reopened intermittently with social distancing and other measures in place, and the U.K. government established a three-tiered system used to determine region-specific guidances in October.
At the end of April, Circus teamed up with the Events Research Programme (ERP) on a 6,000-person trial event at a warehouse venue in Liverpool. COVID-19 test data gathered from that and other gatherings will be used to determine whether live events can resume without contributing to transmission of the novel coronavirus.
According to Peston, the officials said that the final decision will be made in roughly a month based on data made available in about two weeks.