Changes to COVID restrictions for Festivals and Theatres in the UK

COVID restrictions lifted for ticket sellers

Today, Thursday 27th January 2022, England lifted coronavirus restrictions with vaccine passports no longer required at large-scale events. This comes after COVID-19 cases fell sharply over the past two weeks. Face masks were required to enter indoor venues, however the new rules mean theatres and box offices do not need to enforce mask-wearing. NHS COVID passes and proof of a negative test was required to enter a festival, however these restrictions have been lifted in some parts of the UK. Overall, it appears these changes will bring renewed confidence to those apprehensive about returning to the theatre, live music venues and attending festivals.


What do the changes on COVID-19 restrictions mean for ticket sellers?

Festivals

Before this week, NHS COVD passes and proof of negative lateral flow test were required to enter any festival or large-scale event of over 1000 people. However recent changes mean, for English festival-goers, that COVID passes will no longer be required. It is still within the organisers discretion to request passes, negative tests or face masks, however it is no longer law that this be a mandatory requirement.

In the rest of the UK vaccine passports are mandatory for unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience and outdoor live events for more than 4,000 people. In Scotland, the need for passports for festivals were introduced last year, meaning anyone over the age of 18 must show proof – if asked – that they are fully vaccinated, or a negative lateral flow test. In Northern Ireland, proof of COVID status is no longer legally required in hospitality premises, but remains in place for stadiums and festivals. In Wales, there is a gradual easing and from the 28th January many venues will be permitted to open, however strict measure are still in place including mandatory proof of COVID status.

Theatres

In England, Face masks are no longer compulsory in any public spaces, although they are recommended. This means it is up to you as a theatre manager or box office manager to determine whether you would like to request customers use a face mask in your premises.

It has been questioned whether this change would discourage customers, hence Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Waitrose have decided to keep the policy to wear masks in place. On the other hand, 55% of traders said they believed the restrictions being lifted would increase footfall and confidence in the High Street. For ticket sellers and operators, it appears moving toward normality would be most favourable.

In other parts of the UK, social distancing restrictions have been eased in Scotland but face coverings are compulsory. In Wales, NHS COVID passes will be required for large events, cinemas, theatres and all shops and hospitality venues. Strict measure will be constant in Wales until they are reviewed after February 10th 2022. In Northern Ireland, laws on COVID passports have been scrapped altogether, however ministers insist it is still strongly advised. People should work from home where they can and take lateral flow tests before meeting others. Laws on mandatory face coverings will be reviewed on February 10th.

Booking Protect hopes that these recent changes for the UK, specifically the lifting of all restrictions in England, will spark renewed confidence in the general public to buy tickets for experiential events. We hope this acts as a domino effect for the rest of the country and the rest of the world, showing how event attendance can be done safely and securely.

Now is the perfect time for venues to update, refresh, refurbish and renew their risk assessment. Theatres and venues could attempt to reconnect with the community as  we move into the season for shows. Afterall, event attendance has shown to result in healthy positive mental wellbeing.

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