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Cancellation insurance in the UK to be considered next month

The UK government has said that festival insurance schemes will not be explored until after restrictions are lifted in June.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Government would consider providing cancellation insurance for live events next month during a DCMS committee meeting.

More than a quarter of UK festivals over 5,000 capacity have now been cancelled due to a lack of Government-backed insurance, according to research by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

Dowden said: “I have a laser-like focus on making sure we get the events industry back up and running and that really requires us to reach Stage 4 on the roadmap on 21 June, which will see the removal of all remaining restrictions. We are well on track for that but there are challenges.

“Once we get to that point, if it is the case that events still can’t go ahead because of a lack of insurance and the failure of the commercial insurance market, we stand ready to look at if we can use government intervention, exactly the same way as we did with the film industry.”

Dowden was responding to a question from Conservative MP Heather Wheeler, who said that the June 21 deadline would likely be too late for organisers planning to put on festivals this summer.

Wheeler said: “This would have been a very cheap deal to have been done, because the government are confident that 21 June is D-Day… in which case, you didn’t need to spend any money on insurance. But it’s too late for the planning for so many of these summer festivals. It’s just too late.”

Earlier this month, AIF issued a “red alert” warning to the Government, projecting that up to 76 per cent of the remaining festivals, which are scheduled to take place in July and August, could quickly cancel if immediate action is not taken.

The AIF said that those that are holding their position in July and August will need to commit to substantial, non-refundable costs by the end of May.

Elsewhere, Festival Republic has revealed plans to host a 10,000-capacity festival-style event next month as part of the UK government’s ongoing Events Research Programme.

The three-day camping event in mid-June will follow the promoter’s 5,000-capacity one-day festival pilot at Liverpool’s Sefton Park on May 2.

Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, said during an online conference panel session organised by IQ Magazine that the festival would look to test the protocol of how to deal with anyone that might have COVID-19 at the event.

He said: “It’s about testing the protocols around using Covid certification on the NHS app, and it’s also around testing the protocols of what the SAGE scientists here in the UK want, which is at-home testing for all attendees that don’t have the vaccination and that are not immune.”

Benn also said he believed the government is now more concerned about public transport in reopening live events, rather than the venues.

Image: Chris Gent / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Edited for size