The Government must step in and provide financial assistance to the live music sector after delaying the end of lockdown, leading industry figures have said.
Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday the final phase of reopening in England has been pushed back by up to four weeks over fears the Delta variant of Covid-19 could lead to thousands of deaths and a dangerous strain on the NHS.
He put back the end of all legal limits on social contact to July 19, saying he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary.
The move means nightclubs will stay closed and capacity limits will remain on live music venues – many of which are yet to reopen.
The industry called on the Government to help.
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, the body that represents the UK live music industry, said: “Following more than a year of confusion, lost revenue and cancellations, we are devastated the Government has not set out any clear path for the restart of the live music industry.
“The Government has been quick to talk up the success of the vaccine rollout, but other countries are now ahead of us in opening up full capacity events with simple Covid certification processes, including the Netherlands, Belgium and the US.
“The Government must also provide urgent emergency financial support to those impacted by today’s decision.
“There are hundreds of millions of pounds from the much-vaunted Culture Recovery Fund unallocated, despite being 15 months on from the start of the crisis. This money needs to get into the industry without any more delay.”
Paul Reed, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said he understands why the Government delayed reopening but warned it must now provide “effective support”.
He called for the introduction of a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow festivals to continue planning events without fears of further financial loss.
Mr Reed added: “We also must not forget those festivals that have already been forced to cancel or will do so as a result of the delay – they will need a swift and comprehensive financial package to help them survive until the 2022 sales cycle.”
Greg Marshall is the general manager for the Association for Electronic Music.
He said the delay seems out-of-step with preliminary findings from the Events Research Programme, which indicate events can return safely with the correct protocols in place.
Mr Marshall added: “This delay will seriously impact the sector and must be accompanied by effective financial support for the businesses and individuals affected.”
Singer-songwriter Frank Turner earlier warned the delay to the end of lockdown will tip some music businesses into “final collapse”.
Turner, who is a patron of the Music Venue Trust, posted a thread to Twitter and said: “I’m not an epidemiologist, and I’m not here to argue the medical/scientific side of things. It may well be this is the right thing to do. A small point I feel bound to make is this:
“A *lot* of people are loudly asking the question ‘What’s the big deal? How much of a difference does a 4 week delay (or whatever) make?’ And the answer to that is, for some of us, a lot.
“Some people, as far as I can tell, are not far off being back to living their normal lives. And that’s great, I’m happy for them. Some of us really, really aren’t.
“The delay is going to tip some businesses into final collapse. It’s another blow to morale, another financial loss, after an appalling year and more.
“That’s just in my industry, live music. There are many more affected by this.”