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UK music venues successful in lobby against alcohol ban

UK music venues will be allowed to sell alcohol at ticketed events following a government U-turn on the new measures that would have prevented the sale of alcohol without a full meal.

The news comes after a week of lobbying from the sector, in particular by umbrella organisation Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE) and Music Venue Trust, who warned that the restriction would prevent grassroots music venues being able to deliver economically viable events in Tier 2 areas.

Following the initial announcement last month, MVT said it had detailed that income within the grassroots sector derives 65 per cent from wet sales and 35 per cent from ticket sales, and argued that 92 per cent of venues do not have the necessary facilities to offer “substantial meals”.

The revised decision to allow alcohol sales identifies the purchase of a ticket as equivalent to the purchase of a meal, meaning many venues and promoters can now programme shows in December and January, while adhering to current guidelines on social distancing.

Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said: “LIVE is delighted that the government has listened to our calls to allow alcohol to be sold at live music venues under the new Tier 2 restrictions. This announcement is hugely important for our industry as stopping the sale of alcohol was going to mean that even if venues were technically able to open under Tier 2, they wouldn’t have been able to financially.

“There’s still a long way to go for the live music industry to recover, and the new situation is extremely challenging for those in Tier 3, but we’re grateful to all those involved, in the industry and in government, for securing this sensible step.”

Mark Davyd, chief executive of Music Venue Trust, added: “Music Venue Trust alongside Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment Group has worked hard with the government to make the case that the consumption of culture and the consumption of food should be treated equally. If music be the food of love play on!

“We are delighted that we have been listened to and that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in Tier 2 with alcohol on sale. It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to Revive Live Music and Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

The UK’s COVID Winter Plan, which expires at the end of March and has put areas in England into one of three tiers, will see fans be able to return to outdoor events in Tiers 1 and 2, including sporting events from tomorrow (Wednesday).

In Tier 1 up to 4,000 people or 50 per cent of the usual capacity can gather, whichever is smaller, while in Tier 2 the number is 2,000 people, or 50 per cent of usual capacity. With indoor events, the ceiling is 1,000 people.

Under Tier 3, all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, including indoor entertainment venues.