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Latitide organisers tell attendees to ‘jump, hug and dance’

Latitude Festival is encouraging attendees to “jump, dance and hug” at this month’s full-capacity event as other festivals continue to announce cancellations.

Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic Group, which organises Latitude, told the BBC that the festival “really will be the first event that opens properly as a camping event anywhere in the world”. A full crowd of 40,000 is expected at the event in Suffolk, which is part of the Events Research Programme (ERP) and will take place from July 22, three days after COVID restrictions in England are due to be lifted.

While anyone attending the festival must show proof of a negative lateral flow test or double vaccination there will be no social distancing restrictions.

Benn said: “The core preventative measure happens before you arrive. That means that if you’re jumping up and down, waving your arms around, having a hug with somebody, you know that that person that you’re enjoying the music with, that you’re enjoying the theatre with, that you’re enjoying the dancing with, they’re also tested clear of COVID at the same time, so it provides that security and safety that everybody’s looking for.”

Festival Republic worked with the ERP on May’s pilot music festival in Liverpool, attended by 5,000, and on a reduced-capacity Download Festival attended by 10,000 last month. Benn told the BBC that results from Download were not yet available but there had been “no alarm calls” since.

Standon Calling earlier this week announced it would also take place from July 22 despite not being part of the ERP. Organisers said that collaboration with testing app Certific and Imperial College London meant it had a programme in place to organise testing and confirm attendees’ COVID status.

However, Derbyshire’s Y Not Festival has become the latest UK event to cancel citing “the lack of a Government-backed insurance” and absence of guidance following the pilot events.

“Behind the scenes, we have been doing everything possible to make this year’s festival a reality,” organisers said. “We have persevered as long as we could and looked at all of our options, including putting ourselves in the running to be part of a Government-sponsored Event Research Programme. Unfortunately, we were not selected for this.”

Y Not Festival acts were to include Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers.

Image: @markheybo/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size