The Government’s decision not to make domestic vaccine passports mandatory at live events has been welcomed by the entertainment industry.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Monday that England would proceed to step 4 of the road map next week but with guidance on masks and so-called vaccine passports.
However, Government guidance published online states if cases continue to rise it will consider making the passports mandatory for certain venues.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the decision to go ahead with the reopening was “the correct one”.
He added: “There are some important hurdles ahead for our sector, including changes to the isolation rules which have the potential to throw the recovery off course, but for those businesses that have made it this far in the pandemic I feel confident that the sense of community and togetherness the sector has shown to this point will help us overcome these challenges.
”We look forward to the Government providing more guidance for businesses owners – this should be practical and easy to navigate. But from today’s statement we can say that the Government are right not to mandate the use of Covid status certification systems.
“Much of the night-time economy relies on spontaneous consumers and by permitting businesses to opt out the Government have allowed for this trade to continue.”
A statement from the Music Venue Trust said the charity, which has campaigned for Government support and identified venues at risk of closure during the pandemic, “warmly welcomes” the return to full capacity concerts from next week.
It said: “For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can reopen every venue safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It’s finally time to revive live.
“Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to revive live music, and to show that we can do that safely.
“Let’s take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”
Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife festival, said there was more work to do.
He tweeted: “CONFIRMED: 19th July, Hospitality restrictions to be lifted. Now the hard work starts. The road to recovery, that will take years.
“A huge moment for hospitality businesses, hospitality jobs, and more importantly, people’s mental health.”
Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan welcomed the news and said the sector would do everything it could to ensure its spaces were safe.
He said: “This will enable theatres to welcome back full audiences, producing shows that are financially viable and to provide more work for the sector’s precious freelance workforce.
“We know that theatres will do everything in their power to continue to ensure they provide a safe environment for their audiences.
“While it is good news for England, theatres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still subject to tighter restrictions.
“A consistent approach is important both for the sake of struggling theatres in those nations and the impact on the viability of UK-wide tours, which are a vital part of the theatre landscape.”
Greg Parmley, chief executive of music industry trade body LIVE, said it was a “fantastic day for live music” but renewed calls for a Government-backed insurance scheme for the live events sector.
He said: “While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change.
“If Government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”
Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, also urged the Government to launch an indemnity scheme.
He said: “Government has repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long overdue resolution to this problem.
“AIF is also working with the relevant Government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including Covid certification where considered appropriate.”
Eleanor Lloyd, president of the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), said the sector was still restricted by self-isolation rules and the lack of cancellation insurance.
She said: “Producers want to get our industry back on its feet, creating employment and entertaining audiences across the country – but we are doing so under debilitating self-isolation rules and still without the protection of cancellation insurance.
“This is not a sustainable situation, especially as the safety net of the Culture Recovery Fund continues to leave many productions ineligible for support.”
Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said he hoped theatregoers would continue to wear masks when they became optional in venues.
He said: “The thousands of people who have already come back to the theatre since May 17 have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience and how safe and comfortable they felt.
“As we increase capacity, we want to ensure that this positive audience sentiment remains. For this reason, we hope audience members show respect for fellow theatregoers and staff by continuing to wear face coverings when coming into our venues and moving around them.”
And the Vue cinema chain also welcomed the news.
In a statement, the chain said: “As a slew of major new releases continues over the summer and autumn, these sensible new guidelines from the UK Government will help ensure that all those who want to enjoy going out to great movies in a safe and relaxed environment will be able to do so.”
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