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Festivals and theatre prepare for full capacity attendance

The Isle of Wight Festival is among the major events considering a shift from its scheduled date as organisers react to the UK Government’s roadmap announcement that will see venues be able to open to full capacity by the end of June.

Many festivals, concerts, shows and sporting fixtures are continuing to reassess the implications of the roadmap, that will see up to 10,000 spectators at outdoor events from May 17 and the elimination of restrictions at all indoor and outdoor events by June 21.

The Isle of Wight Festival is scheduled for June 17-20 – just ahead of the proposed full relaxation – and organisers admitted they are considering a change in the wake of the roadmap announcement. One of the UK’s most iconic festivals, which was first held in 1968, welcomes up to 60,000 spectators annually but was cancelled in 2020.

An Isle of Wight Festival spokesperson said: “Following the Prime Minister’s statement, we’re exploring our options and we’ll be back with more information next week.”

One festival that has already confirmed a switch since the Monday announcement is Slam Dunk Festival, which usually takes place in May but will switch to September. Super League’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle has also been moved from late May to early September.

The roadmap plan has been hailed by arts groups and sports rights holders who have welcomed the certainty that is provided by the step-by-step schedule.

West End ticketing operator London Theatre Direct told TheTicketingBusiness that it has seen a surge in website traffic in the 48 hours since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday. Chief executive Francis Hellyer said the operator has been busily adapting its schedule and has indicated there could be a flurry of on-sale activity in the coming weeks.

“Within the last 24 hours we’ve taken a number of performances of sale for shows that will now be moving their reopening date, but we’ve also had a number of very positive conversations around on-sales,” Hellyer said.

“It’s a little early to provide any details, and we’re also conscious that while the government steps are clear there are caveats around the dates.

“We’re delighted that the announcement of the steps to fully reopening theatres looks to have already provided some much-needed consumer confidence, as evidenced by an increase in traffic to our website and in ticket sales.”

Hellyer added that despite the positive news, the immediate focus is on offering support to customers whose tickets are for shows scheduled for before the introduction of full-capacity seating in June.

He said: “London Theatre Direct welcomes the announcement of the four steps to theatres being able to fully reopen. Our first priority is to our customers who have tickets for non-socially distanced shows prior to the earliest date theatres can welcome a full audience.

“Over the coming days we’ll be working with theatres and producers to move our customers to rescheduled dates, offering vouchers where exchanges are not possible and of course providing refunds where customers request a refund.

“We’re excited that the announcement gives theatres and producers the option of putting on socially distanced events from as early as May 17 and we’re ready to support West End theatres using the seating bubble, ticket wallet and other technology we developed last year to improve customer experience and ensure safe and secure ticketing.”

Emirates Old Trafford CEO Daniel Gidney told TheTicketingBusiness on Tuesday that a “roaring 20s” could be in store for the live events industry with an estimated £250bn having been saved by consumers over the last 12 months.