The Brit Awards has become the latest event to join the UK government’s pilot programme with the live show at the O2 Arena in London to welcome 4,000 people.

The ceremony, scheduled to take place on May 11, will mark the UK’s first major indoor, and in-person, live music event in more than a year.

The event is part of the Events Research Programme and will use COVID-19 testing approaches to investigate how live shows can take place without social distancing. Attendees also will not be required to wear masks in the 20,000-capacity venue.

Some 2,500 tickets will be given to frontline workers in the Greater London Area, with a ballot for free tickets for key workers opening today (Thursday). The remaining tickets will go to the nominated artists, their managers and teams plus other members of the music industry and sponsors.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today announced that the awards ceremony would be joining the pilot programme, and will join similar events, such as the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield, and an outdoor concert in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The Brits are always a big night in the music calendar, but this year’s awards will be particularly special.

“They will reunite live audiences with the best of British talent for the first time in a year, while providing a vital opportunity to see how we can get large crowds back safely as soon as possible. Music connected us when we were separated by this pandemic, and now it’s going to help bring us back together again.”

The Brits, which has been pushed back from the traditional February date because of the pandemic, will feature performances by Dua Lipa, Headie One and Arlo Parks.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “This year’s BRIT Awards with Mastercard is one of the most significant in the show’s history. Not only will we be celebrating the brilliant music and artists that have helped us through the pandemic, but we hope it will provide a path for the return of live music that fans and artists have so sorely missed. And as a thank you to the key workers who have kept our country going through the difficult times, we are inviting them to be our audience for the first live performances at The O2 in over a year.

“We’re buzzing about the show and working closely with Government, The O2 and all our partners to ensure all safety measures and guidelines are adhered to.”

Earlier this week, Festival Republic, which organises the Reading and Leeds Festivals, also 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 first event, out of now more than 12 planned pilots, kicked off last 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.

Other events in the pilot include the FA Cup final on May 15, when it is hoped that up to 21,000 fans will be allowed at Wembley Stadium.

Image: David Jones / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size