‘Let’s go!’ Reading and Leeds tweet raises music festival fans’ hopeson February 24, 2021 at 2:43 pm

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Organisers appear to confirm the events will happen this year, as lockdown is due to be eased.

Stormzy

image copyrightGetty Images

Reading and Leeds Festival organisers appear to have confirmed the events will go ahead this summer, after plans to ease lockdown were announced.

Under the government’s plan, limits on social contact in England could be gone by 21 June, if Covid is under control.

The twin-site festival is due to take place from 27 to 29 August.

“Following the government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to get back to the fields this summer,” Reading and Leeds’ Twitter feed said. “Let’s go!”

A spokesman said there was currently no further comment. Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Queens of the Stone Age have already been announced as headliners, with Mabel, AJ Tracey and Doja Cat also on the line-up.

The apparent confirmation comes a month after Glastonbury – which takes place earlier in the summer – was forced to cancel its 2021 event.

Last year, Reading and Leeds boss Melvin Benn told MPs his events could not go ahead while social distancing was in place.

However, he said live music could resume with mass testing of fans, “creating an environment where everybody in the space has tested negative in order to gain entry and are therefore unable to transmit the virus to other people”.

It is unclear whether any such measures will be put in place for this summer’s event.

Reading and Leeds is regarded by many fans as second only to Glastonbury in the annual UK music calendar. Originally a rock festival, it has seen legendary performances by Nirvana, Oasis, Guns N’ Roses and Paramore.

More recently, it has embraced dance and hip-hop, with high-profile slots for The Prodigy, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone. This year, the festival is due to host about 200,000 fans at Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds, with two main stages at each site.

It is not clear how Reading and Leeds has been able to finalise its plans less than 48 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his four-step plan for easing restrictions.

Under the proposals, outdoor hospitality, including drive-in cinemas, could re-open as part of step two in April. Pilots of indoor live events, with social distancing, could also commence at the same time.

Festival goers

image copyrightGetty Images

Step three, which would start no earlier that 17 May, could allow limited indoor mixing. Indoor concerts would have a limit of 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s maximum capacity. Outdoor concerts and sporting events would have an upper limit of 4,000 people – or 10,000 for seated events.

The roadmap gives no guarantee for those dates, with every step dependent on slowing the spread of Covid-19.

Nonetheless, the music industry welcomed the timeline for the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England. However, it warned that live music was “at the back of the queue to re-open” and may need financial assistance.

Greg Parmley, chief executive of the trade body Live, said his sector “could be months behind the rest of the economy”.

“The chancellor must acknowledge our extended closure in the budget and provide the economic support needed to ensure the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people that work in our industry exist as we come through this pandemic,” he said.

The UK live music industry was effectively wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic, with events cancelled throughout 2020 and many major tours postponed until this autumn at the earliest.

The situation prompted the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to launch an inquiry into the future of festivals.

Last month, the committee wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask him to extend government-backed insurance schemes to music and performing arts festivals.

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