The UK Government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions, announced on 22 February, aims to have all social distancing measures lifted by 21 June at the earliest. The news has brought hopes to festival organisers, who could see their events going ahead this year if Boris Johnson’s timeline remains intact. However, the industry is concerned about the lack of Government-backed insurance schemes in case plans change.

According to the BBC, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) said that “2021 festival season is by no means guaranteed at this point” and “there is still the chance of widespread cancellations if data around covid cases does not meet the Government’s requirements and lockdown easing is delayed.” 

The Government has explained that it “hopes that the increased protection offered by vaccines will gradually replace the restrictions”, and hopes that “all legal limits on social contact can be removed” in the summer.

Although major outdoor events of up to 4,000 people are allowed from 17 May, most festival organisers are planning their events for Stage 4 of the roadmap; that is the last stage and is set to start on 21 June.

Paul Reed, chief executive of the AIF, told Sky news that festivals need to make a decision on whether they are going ahead by the end of march, despite the fact that currently there are no COVID-19 insurance measures to protect them. For festivals, especially the small ones, to go ahead with the current level of uncertainty could be risky without a Government-backed insurance scheme.

On 2 March Wales online reported that “conservative chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Julian Knight called on the Government to introduce an insurance scheme to help protect festivals and other cultural events, should Covid-19 force them to cancel for a second summer running.”

Glastonbury and Download are the two biggest festivals who cancelled their events for the second year in a row. Glastonbury’s cancellation was announced on 21 January, prior to the Government announcement in February. In 2020 they celebrated their 50th anniversary, which had to be replaced with a virtual event.

Download reported the news on 1 March. “Last year the festival was also called off due to the pandemic, in what would have been the 40th anniversary of its original incarnation, Monsters of Rock,” BBC reported.

Here is a list of the festivals that are ready to go ahead if the circumstances allow it, and some of their public reactions to the Government’s plan to ease all COVID restrictions this summer:

July festivals

“Planning for Latitude 2021 is well underway and following Monday’s government announcement, we hope to have more news to share with you very soon. We can’t wait to be reunited with you this summer.”, said the organisers on social media.

August festivals

“It’s still a long and rather complicated road to get there, but if we’re allowed to go ahead, words will never be able to fully describe the sheer love and energy that will radiate through this years’ fair”, Boomtown website says.

September festivals

“In case you missed it, #IOW2021 is on for Sept 16 -19 ? We can’t wait to celebrate the end of Summer with you all ??”, said the organisers on social media.

“It’s finally time to look forward again. September 2021. The biggest comeback party [on] the south coast…”, the festival organisers wrote on social media.

Picture Credit: Aiala Suso

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