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Live music industry responds to Boris Johnson's COVID-19 recovery roadmap

22 February 2021, 17:36 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

The live music sector has responded to Boris Johnson's COVID-19 recovery roadmap that states live events without social distancing restrictions will not return until 21 June at the earliest.

This afternoon (22 February) the UK Prime Minister discussed the various stages of easing the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England, which confirmed that live events might be able to return on 17 May with limited capacity and social distancing measures in place, depending on how the coming weeks pan out with the virus.

If the infection rate and case numbers continue to decrease over the coming months, Boris Johnson hopes to see the end of all "legal limits on social contact" by 21 June.

Following his recovery roadmap announcement, the live sector has responded, with some welcoming the Prime Minister's announcement, and others urging Boris Johnson to provide more clarity on how the government will support the live sector financially until it can fully reopen.

According to Music Week, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd said, "It is good to hear the government provide conditions under which initially socially distanced events, and then fuller capacity events, can take place. Based on this information, it is now possible to imagine how we ‘Revive Live’ in grassroots music venues and develop that work into the full return of our domestic music scene. We note that this roadmap once again singles out live performance events as a specific risk which require that the sector is treated in a special way."

He added, "Since March 2020, we have made the case to the government that if this is the case, based on their interpretation of the data, then it is logical that the government will choose to address that specific status with sector-specific financial support to mitigate the damage being done to businesses and people's lives, careers and families right across the live music industry. In light of today's announcements, the Budget next week must clearly lay out exactly how the government is going to provide that sector-specific support."

Live music industry body LIVE said, "The Chancellor now has a choice to make, as it is clear live music will be closed, or uneconomical, for the months ahead, with a return to normality not possible until at least June 21, four long months away. Support for businesses and individuals must continue and, in particular, when the government looks at unwinding the general support packages, they must replace them with sector-specific support for the industries that will take longer than anyone else to reopen."

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has also responded to the Prime Minister's roadmap, welcoming the "fantastic news" that "we are just a few months away from live music bursting back onto stages". Njoku-Goodwin said, "Our world-leading live music scene - ranging from stadium and concert-hall filling acts to emerging solo performers in the local pub - will help lift people’s spirits and deliver a huge cultural and economic boost as we emerge from this pandemic. However, it is vital that our industry gets the continued economic support it needs to keep us going through to the point we can restart."

He continued, "The prospect of there being no legal impediments to live music events means issues like insurance are now even more pressing. They now present one of the final barriers to getting events going this summer. The industry has worked tirelessly with the Government to explore testing, better ventilation and many other innovative solutions to help lift the pause button, which has crippled our industry for the past year. We will now continue to work with the Government on pilot schemes to ensure a safe, consistent and successful approach to getting live music back in our communities as soon as possible."

Njoku-Goodwin added, "While the astounding success of the vaccine rollout means the end of the health emergency is in sight, the economic toll of this pandemic will be with us for a long time to come - making dynamic growth industries like the UK music industry more important than ever. The music industry can play a key role in the post-pandemic economic and social recovery, and live music events could be the shot in the arm that Britain needs as we look to bounce back from this pandemic."

The UK Music Chief's response comes after he urged the Prime Minister last week to include the live music industry in his COVID-19 recovery roadmap to save thousands of jobs at risk of being lost forever.

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