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Festival Republic unveils pilot gig without masks, distancing

Festival Republic, which organises the Reading and Leeds Festivals, has joined the UK government’s pilot programme with a live concert to trial the safe return of fans with no social distancing.

The event, in partnership with Culture Liverpool, will welcome a crowd of 5,000 people to the 7,500-capacity Sefton Park in Liverpool on May 2.

The audience will not be required to wear face coverings in the controlled setting of the test event and researchers on site will examine the movements and behaviour of the crowd.

However, ticketholders will be required to take a rapid lateral flow test at a local testing centre prior to entry to trial the role these facilities could play in the return of large scale events. All attendees must have proof of a negative test result to enter the event and will also be asked to take a test after the event to gather further evidence on the safety of outdoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical mitigations like face coverings.

Melvin Benn, director of Festival Republic, said: “The Sefton Park pilot is a vital, science-led event which will help open up the live music industry in a safe and secure way. This event is not about pushing vaccines or passports , we do not want to limit attendance to our events in any way.

“Working with the government we want to create a universal blueprint for reopening and demonstrate we can do it safely. Secretary of State Oliver Dowden and his team at DCMS are showing real commitment to making this a reality by launching the Event Research Programme and the Sefton Park Pilot.

“Live music is a vital part of so many people’s lives. This event is the first step in getting festivals back on track this year. It’s about demonstrating our absolute commitment that we can and will open on June 21. We want to get festival fans back at events safely this year. We all need a summer of live music.”

Tickets for the show, which will be headlined by The Blossoms, can be purchased on a one-ticket-per-person basis. Fans hoping to buy tickets must also be over 18-years-old, living in the Liverpool City Region and registered to a local GP and showing no sign of COVID-19 symptoms.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “We’re one step closer to a summer of live events now our science-led programme is underway. Testing different settings and looking at different mitigations is key to getting crowds back safely.

“The Sefton Park pilot is an important addition to the programme. After many months without live audiences, Festival Republic are bringing live music back to fans with this very special event and I hope it won’t be too much longer until gigs are back for good.”

The new concert has been announced as part of a wider plan for a number of venues in Liverpool to take part in the pilot scheme to test crowd safety.

The first event, out of 12 planned pilots, kicked off over the weekend, with the World Snooker Championships. The Championships are due to run until May 3 and will welcome up to 1,000 spectators a day to the Sheffield Crucible Theatre to test an indoor seated setting.