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England's Freedom Day and the Return of Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

With a lot of fanfare and global media attention England* entered their ‘Freedom Day’ on 19th July 2021 where most COVID-19 restrictions were removed. Although this potentially means the return of large capacity music festivals, nightclubs and live music concerts what is the reality for visitors seeking entry to a festival or live event?

As one of the first countries to remove the bulk of restrictions the media attention has been intense. However, despite the majority of the population celebrating this move there are numerous commentators arguing that this is too soon as COIVD-19 cases hit 50,000 a day. With a high percentage of the adult population being fully vaccinated only time will tell how this will develop over coming months.

Festival-goers should not get too excited and think they can just rock up at any event with their ticket and get admitted. Music festivals are having to follow strict guidelines from the authorities that have granted them licences for their event to go ahead. What measures and safety protocols are festival organisers putting in place for anyone (festival-goers, volunteers, staff, vendors, contractors and artists) that are likely to enter the festival site? As a general rule the entry requirements published so far by music festivals going ahead are broadly similar and include the following: 

  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination with both doses received at least 14 days before arrival OR
  • Proof of a negative NHS COVID-19 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) taken within 48 hours of arrival OR
  • Proof of natural immunity based upon a positive PCR test taken within 180 days of the performance (including 10 days self-isolation following the result). 

In addition, for multi-day events visitors will need to take a second test if the first has expired because NHS COVID Passes generated from a negative Lateral Flow Test expire after 48 hours. Festival organisers are suggesting that anyone intending to visit a festival site should order a free Lateral Flow Test with home delivery in good time. Most organisers will not be accepting a text message of a Negative Test Result or vaccine cards issued at vaccination centres as proof of vaccination. 

It’s best to check the conditions that each festival organiser is posting on their event website in good time. Currently organisers are implementing training for volunteers and staff in order to correctly administer and police all measures and protocols. Recent pilot exercises have demonstrated that although organisers have been thorough with entry requirements some cases have still slipped through. In addition to the testing and vaccination evidence procedures visitors should also expect temperature checks and visual observation to prevent anyone with symptoms form entering even if they have the necessary documentation. Also expect to see plenty of sanitiser and polite requests for mask wearing too. For ticket holders who unfortunately cannot meet the requirements or test positive most organisers have set up ticket roll-over schemes.  

For organisers planning their music festival using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

*Note that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own timeline for removal of restrictions.
Image by Bastian Riccardi from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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