After the national lockdown rules end on 2nd December, venues with lower rates of Covid-19 infection will be allowed to reopen again for performances and shows, providing clarity on how to safely and legally run a show in the current circumstances.
From the start of next month, England will move into a three-tier system, similar to the one in place in late Summer, with businesses being able to stay open in a secure safe way.
The big difference for the music industry is that whilst nightclubs must remain closed, outdoor and indoor events can now be undertaken under these new rules, with particular rules in place depending on the tiers.
This provides a certain level of clarity and flexibility, but industry professionals are still asking questions about some of the terms.
What Are The Capacity Rules?
Event venues can re-open to the public, although the attendance is significantly limited depending on the Covid Alert Tier of the area the event is taking place in.
At Tier 1 (Medium), the limit is either 4,000 people for outdoor events, 1,000 people for indoor events or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower.
For Tier 2 (High) areas, the limit reduces to 2,000 people for outdoor events, remains at 1,000 people for indoor events or remains at half capacity if that is lower.
Tier 3 (Very high) areas cannot have events at all, besides spectator sports taking place behind closed doors.
The flexibility enables smaller venues to open, with social distancing rules maintaining the ‘rule of six’ in the same way it was upheld over the summer.
One other notable point of flexibility is that whilst hospitality businesses must stop taking orders after 10 pm, they can remain open until 11 pm, and if a concert starts before 10 pm the venue can keep open until it finishes.
Whilst this opens the possibility for live concerts and live DJ sets playing dance music promo tracks (albeit with strict Covid-secure measures), industry professionals have had issues with how some of the rules conflict.
The Problem Grassroots Concerts
According to the rules, for Tier 1 and 2 live music events can take place, however, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) released a statement that questions the consistency of some of the Tier 2 rules.
Within the scope of the Tier 2 guidelines, concerts can take place however alcohol cannot be consumed unless accompanied by a ‘substantial meal’.
Aside from the epistemological questions of defining the meaning of the term ‘substantial’, which has previously lead to some somewhat creative solutions reminiscent of the Raines Sandwich, this has led to issues of consistency.
If the point of the substantial meal rule to ensure that the intent of the person is not to drink but to eat a meal with a drink, MVT argued that buying a ticket to a venue affords the same intention and that people with tickets to shows should also be allowed to drink.
Given how many smaller grassroots venues rely on alcohol sales as well as ticket sales to support events, this could be the difference between a thriving and safe events scene and continues concerns.