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UK government could confirm mid-July relaxation of COVID rules today

By | Published on Monday 5 July 2021


UK Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson is expected to confirm later today that most of the COVID restrictions currently in force in England will lift on 19 Jul, which should allow fuller capacity shows to return and clubs to reopen. Though, as always, the devil will be in the detail.

Those restrictions were originally due to lift on 21 Jun, of course, putting England into what the government calls step four of its COVID plan. However, things were pushed back a month because of concerns around the newer delta variant of the coronavirus.

Some medical experts have called for further delays in lifting at least some of the current COVID rules amid a new surge in infections and fears that new variants of the virus could still emerge.

However, others counter that although the number of infections is up, because of the vaccination roll out new cases are highest among young people who are least likely to have severe symptoms. And, indeed, the rate of people being hospitalised with COVID is pretty much static despite the recent spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, for a live music industry still on reduced capacity and a clubbing sector still in shutdown, rolling footage of crowds gathering to watch recent sporting events has been annoying to see, with a general consensus that the government is currently applying one set of rules to sport and another to culture. With that in mind, the music and clubbing sectors are pushing for a full re-opening on 19 Jul to be confirmed sooner rather than later.

It remains to be seen what Johnson confirms later today, but Greg Parmley from live sector trade group LIVE said this morning: “We welcome the positive noises coming from government around reopening. As an industry that has been closed since the start of the pandemic, we are THRILLED at the prospect of welcoming live music fans back through our doors”.

However, he added, the live industry will need to see the specifics of what the government plans to change on 19 Jul, and will still need further support to successfully reopen. “The last year has taught us that nothing can be taken for granted”, he added. “If the government wants the industry to bounce back and help the economy recover, they need to provide a government-backed insurance scheme to give organisers the confidence and security they still desperately need”.