The FA Cup final at Wembley, the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre and club nights in Liverpool are just a handful of events that are to feature as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP).
These events will be pilot events and will allow the Government and local authorities to see how events could operate this summer.
The ERP will be used to provide key scientific data into how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen in line with the Prime Minister’s Roadmap out of lockdown as part of Step 4, commencing no earlier than June 21.
This review will be crucial to how venues – from major sport stadiums to comedy clubs, theatres to live music spaces, wedding venues to conference centres – could operate once restrictions are lifted..
Plans in Liverpool are currently being developed, with the ambition that they will take place throughout April.
Decisions on the number of spectators allowed into the pilot events are yet to be taken and will be subject to discussions with event organisers and local authorities. Settings will include small indoor venues that have a capacity of circa 200 people, where a gig or comedy night would take place, to large outdoor venues such as Wembley stadium. The FA Cup final on May 15 is the most high-profile of the events announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice.
Attendees will be required to have a negative test ahead of the event and will be tested after the event to ensure any transmission of the virus is monitored.
The evidence will then be shared across the events industry so that venues can prepare to accommodate audiences.
Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said of the pilot events: “These test events will be crucial in helping us find out what works so we can get fuller audiences back safely into venues across the country this summer.
“We will be led by the science, but will work flat out to make that happen to help venues’ revival and the British people back to enjoying some of their passions.
“These are important steps towards the safe and special summer we all crave and that I’m fully focused on delivering.”
Claire McColgan, director of culture at Liverpool City Council, said: “Liverpool is an event city. They are a critical part of our economy, culture and community and so we are delighted to be working with partners across Government, our colleagues at the University of Liverpool and a number of local venues and promoters to plan this series of pilot events.
“Our experience as the pilot city for mass testing means we have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to deliver complicated projects safely, and we really hope we can help provide the evidence needed to ensure the wider sector is able to open across the country in the coming months.”
The ERP will produce a report, which will be submitted to MPs by the end of May to help inform Government decisions on Step Four of the reopening roadmap. It will also feed into the Government’s COVID certification review.
Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker Tour, said: “We are thrilled to once again be selected as a crucial participant in the UK Government’s progress towards leading us out of the coronavirus pandemic and back on the road to normal life.
“This research programme will provide evidence required to show that people can get back to doing some of the leisure activities they love, such as visiting theatres, indoor concerts and sporting events.
“It is yet another challenge for us, but so far over the past year we have risen to every challenge and met it successfully. We have proved again and again that we can stage events where the safety of the players, officials and fans is paramount. The Betfred World Championship will be no different and we look forward to working day and night over the next few weeks, alongside our Government advisors, to ensure that all necessary measures are in place.”
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