There is “no evidence” to suggest that a new strain of the Delta Covid-19 variant is linked to festivals and live events, according to Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 strategic response director for Public Health England (PHE). 

The PHE doctor was addressing media reports that a new strain of the Delta variant was emerging following recent festivals. 

Dr Hopkins said: “There is no evidence to date that the surge in cases linked to festivals relates to a new variant or strain, but this will be continually monitored. We are consistently reviewing all sequencing data to monitor and assess the emergence of new variants and do this for any surge in cases.” 

The comments were made as part of the Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE) organisation’s defence of the running of large scale events, such as festivals. 

LIVE lists what is has called the “key facts” for the running of festivals and live music events. It defends these events as running well within the remit set by the UK Government, and are going the extra mile to keep ticket holders safe. This includes setting entry protocols such as providing proof of double vaccination against coronavirus, a negative lateral flow test or natural immunity. 

The body also claims that the industry has been working hard over the last 12 months to build a best practice guide for attendees and staff to make sure these events are as risk-free as possible. LIVE is also encouraging others in the hospitality sector like restaurants, pubs and sports events to follow a similar route of providing proof before entering. 

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “We’ve shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely, but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings. 

“So that we can keep the football season, theatres and gigs safe with full crowds this winter, I urge sport, music and culture fans to get the vaccine as this is the safest way, we can get big events firing on all cylinders once more.”

LIVE also notes that Test and Trace data sets “come with the following proviso: ‘Cases are reported through NHS Test and Trace cannot be directly attributed to a specific event’. It also admits that cases will be transmitted during these large gatherings, but transmissions can also be linked to transport, pubs and restaurants just before or after the event. 

Image: Tijs van Leur on Unsplash