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App-based entry will be the ‘new norm,’ says Festival Republic boss

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis said he is considering using an app-based testing scheme for the 2021 event that will allow ticketholders on site after they have been shown to be COVID-free.

Eavis said he is looking into several options to ensure the festival goes ahead next year, and an NHS-linked tracing app would be a possibility via a partnership with Melvin Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic.

Earlier this month, Benn outlined a blueprint for UK festivals to incorporate COVID-19 testing in 2021 to avoid social distancing rules that would make them “impossible” to operate.

Benn said, according to the Guardian newspaper, that app-based entry to events “will become the new norm.”

He added: “I’m 100% confident about next year, literally 100%, because the government will successfully pursue one of three options: cure, vaccine or testing.”

Eavis said he was hopeful for a vaccine and that Benn’s plan would be a “last resort,” though they would “piggyback onto that scheme if we can.”

Meanwhile, Emily Eavis, Michael’s daughter and co-organiser, has urged the government to refund 2020 event licence fees, stating that it would “be tens of thousands of pounds,” and “would offer a financial lifeline to many events”.

She added: “The UK government is going to need to step up and support the British arts more broadly. This country’s venues, theatres, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country financially and culturally, but they need support now. Otherwise, I think we face the very real possibility of so many aspects of our culture disappearing forever.”

The 2020 edition of the festival, which was set to be the event’s 50th anniversary, was cancelled in mid-March due to COVID-19, with Glastonbury ticketholders able to roll over their tickets to next year or apply for refunds.

The largest greenfield festival in the world, originally scheduled to take place in June at Worthy Farm, was expecting more than 210,000 punters after an agreed increase from last year.

Emily said: “Cancelling 2020 obviously cost us a sizeable sum of money”. She said they had “drafted and modelled four different [contingency] plans for next year” but couldn’t yet give further details.

The Eavises warned that the event could be in serious financial troubles if the 2021 edition does not go ahead.

Michael said: “We have to run next year, otherwise we would seriously go bankrupt … It has to happen for us, we have to carry on. Otherwise it will be curtains. I don’t think we could wait another year.”