The last year of lockdown has been a challenging one in the UK and across the world. But, we heard last week from PM Boris Johnson that “the crocus of hope is poking through the frost”. Translation: lockdown will soon be gradually lifting, but don’t get carried away. For musicians who have been struggling to make do with home studios, virtual collaborations, and online gigs, this is big news. For the music industry in crisis, this means that festivals and large concerts are back on the cards this year. But, what does the timeline look like and what exactly is being prioritised first in the UK roadmap plan?
Although we can’t guarantee exactly when the Covid lockdown will end for the music industry, this article will explain the rationale behind government thinking and some of the current dates for social distancing changes that will have a serious impact for musicians. At last some good news!
There’s a lot of jargon around Coronavirus and corresponding national health policies. In essence, PM Johnson’s long-awaited roadmap provides a framework for lifting the current restrictions (national lockdown).
The roadmap allows different sectors of the economy to start making plans for reopening and building Covid-safe guidelines into working practices before restrictions are lifted.
Each stage of the roadmap is contingent on four tests being met:
At present, all are being satisfied sufficiently to start rolling out stage one.
Covid-19 restrictions will be eased over four stages spread across at least four months. We explain more about this below.
A roadmap is all very well, but some of these guidelines are a little confusing. What do they actually mean for musicians who need to get back to work?
The UK lockdown and tiered restrictions on social distancing hit the creative economy incredibly hard last summer. However, the prospect of no social restrictions by the beginning of summer leaves open potential for a massive rebound, fuelled by pent up demand.
But, when will the lockdown end fully for musicians? Below, your questions are answered.
Presumably, the rules for indoor music rehearsals will be similar to indoor sports groups, which means no indoor group rehearsals until 17th May.
At this point, the rule of six will likely still be in place, so don’t expect local symphony orchestra rehearsals to start in May necessarily.
However, if it’s possible for your band to rehearse outside in a park, common, or other permissible communal areas, you may be able to resume in April with a group of up to 30.
We expect the earliest time for organised outside gigs and drive in- performances will be 12th April.
This is when bars and pubs with outdoor seating/gardens may be hiring DJs or bands, and also when people can meet others outside of their household.
Obviously, busking is allowed during lockdown, but formal gigs will likely not be here till mid-Spring.
On 17th May, indoor performances can begin again with half capacity, which in large venues is capped at 1,000 people. Expect to start seeing concert halls and performance spaces booking up fast in the coming months.
By 21st June, if all goes well, indoor gigs with no cap on audience numbers can resume.
The lifting of all social restrictions at this point will also mean groups of any size can attend indoor gigs together (rather than the rule of six or two households).
On the 17th May, outdoor performances will be allowed. We assume this means that festivals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers at this point.
For a lot of festivals, however, half capacity isn’t viable (especially with the financial impact of last year’s festival season losses).
So, more likely the 21st June will be when festivals will actually start going ahead – providing all goes well and the four tests continue to be met.
At this point, all social distancing rules should be removed, meaning festivals can go ahead much as they did pre-Covid. Though perhaps with increased testing and thorough cleaning of shared facilities.
International travel for holidays won’t resume until the 17th May at the earliest, however, travel for work purposes is largely permitted.
The real issue is the necessity to isolate for 10 days on return and (if returning from a country with a high infection rate) paying £2000 to isolate in a hotel for two weeks. Depending on your circumstances, this may not be viable.
Our best bet for international tours to resume again is late summer at the earliest, and probably much later given the pace of vaccine rollout. As well as the potential for more variants to emerge that may encourage the UK to shut its borders.
UK tours, however, could well resume in April with indoor performances resuming.
Hopefully, this has clarified how you can start making steps towards preparing for (what we hope!) will be a summer of seriously good music.
The roadmap does not prioritise the music industry, but given how many events aren’t viable without a decent-sized audience, lifting restrictions on gigs earlier while still capping numbers very low wouldn’t be helpful either.
We all want to see the virus circulating less, and the government is optimistic the UK roadmap will help prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed again with more lives lost.
Nonetheless, musicians have been patiently waiting to resume work and receive necessary state support which hasn’t been forthcoming. The return of live music cannot come soon enough.
Be sure to share this article with your fellow musicians, it contains some vital information that they need to know. Also, what’re your plans for the 21st June? We would love to hear all about them in the comment section below!
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