Festival Republic Managing Director reveals plan to eliminate social distancing at events


Leeds Festival 2019

The future of festivals may not be as different as we think, Getintothis’ Sian Ellis reveals the plan to get public events back in action amidst COVID-19.

The hope to eliminate social distancing at future festivals is a new plan devised by Managing Director of Festival Republic, Melvin Benn.

The announcement comes after the majority of 2020 festivals and live events have been cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus.

Festival Republic is the organiser of major UK festivals including Download, Wireless, Latitude and Reading/Leeds Festival, among others.

Benn has released details of the ambitious plan, which encourages the use of festivals and live events as incentives to increase Covid-19 testing.

The ‘Full Capacity’ plan proposes that an incentive-based scheme associated with live events would result in a surge of people taking COVID-19 tests, as well as encouraging people to use the NHS tracing app.

The plan

The plan requires members of the public to take a mandatory COVID-19 test in order to attend a live event. The public will be advised to purchase a home testing kit from any high street store and subsequently download the NHS tracing app.

After registering via the app, the home testing kit can be sent back to the high street store, which would then be sent to a lab. The lab could then formulate an in-app notification for users, presenting their results.

Anyone who tests negative would be able to use the app as a ‘ticket’ for events for a limited time. It would be compulsory for members of the public to show their negative test result at the entrance of any live event before entering the premises.

The duration of this time-limited negative test would be dependant on the current infection rate and medical advice, and can be adjusted accordingly. By linking the certificate with the NHS tracing app, if a person was to be in contact with somebody who is COVID-19 positive, the certificate would automatically expire.

Covid-19 Test

The plan aims to benefit the needs of the events/hospitality sector as well as the government’s desire to increase testing of the general public. It is not a replacement of other hygiene measures at events, such as regular cleaning and health screening upon entry.

This would be beneficial to various companies in the events/hospitality sector, who are at risk of permanent closure. Many venues are under threat due to the COVID-19 crisis, including Liverpool’s Kazimier Garden and Phase One.

The Music Venue Trust‘s #saveourvenues campaign is also currently live in action, in an attempt to save the venues affected by coronavirus across the country.

Liverpool City Council provides grants for businesses affected by coronavirus

Managing Director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn stated: “We are currently in a position where the government has capacity to test 1.4 million people a week, but is testing less than 700k because there is no incentive. My plan is to create incentive, to test at least double the current capacity and be aiming for 12-15 million people a month being tested minimum.”

The plans’ main goal is to eliminate the need for social distancing at live events. It states: “Where sectors of the population have recently tested negative for Covid-19, social distancing amongst those people can be temporarily but safely relaxed”.

Proposed provisional timeline for the full capacity plan:

June – Agreement in principle for pilot in partnership with HM Government

June/July – National Awareness campaign on full capacity strategy

August – Proof of concept pilot at a single event

September – Further sector pilots (theatre, sporting events, restaurants)

November (onwards) – Industry restart with embedded new process and rapid scaling

Melvin Benn commented: “I am proposing The Full Capacity Plan to stimulate the debate about getting back to normal opening rather than partial opening because partial opening is a financial disaster. I am proposing The Full Capacity Plan because it’s simple and easy, inexpensive in comparison to the subsidies that the government is currently paying and very achievable with good organisation.”





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