Having been questioned during the DCMS Committee’s The Future of UK Music Festivals inquiry as to why the UK is behind other countries in staging pilot events even through it has one of the world’s most successful vaccination initiatives, culture minister Caroline Dinenage said it boiled down to an “appetite for risk”.
Following a pilot festival event in Walibi, Holland, as part of series of test events organised by Fieldlab Events, that saw 1,500 people move freely around the site having shown a negative Covid-19 test, Committee chair Conservative MP for Solihull Julian Knight asked Dineage, “Why is it that we’re going to have to wait, seemingly forever, for test events whereas the Dutch are doing theirs now. We should be much further along the road than they are?”
She responded, “The answer is the appetite for risk. We’ve been very clear about the steady and safe way that we want to bring back large scale events. During the course of the pandemic there have been some really high-profile, one-off, mass events that have been a real catalyst for the spreading of the virus. That’s why the motivation for our approach has been a very careful roadmap that’s backed up by data.
“We are doing pilots starting in April, they’ll be running throughout April and it’s going to be very carefully conducted in a way that gathers the scientific evidence as part of the pipeline right the way through, so it’s not going to wait until the end to come up with its conclusions.”
She denied rumours that the the results of the Events Research Programme (ERP) of test events for the festival sector would not be known until late June or early July, promising it would be published in May.
Dineage said, “I am hoping that everything will be done together and that we will be able to provide the full scientific research and evidence by the end of May based on a whole range of different scientific and pilot events.
“The thing to bear in mind is that as well as having a team of scientists that are working at each event looking at that event and all the different aspects to it and all the different mitigations around it, there are three different consortiums as well who are each leading studies.
“There’s a consortia in Liverpool who are looking at the issue of transmission, there’s one in Loughborough who are looking at the issue of ventilation and there’s one in Edinburgh who are looking at things like crowd behaviour, compliance and sentiment around all the mitigations. So it’s a case of bringing all of that together and trying to do so at pace.”
The culture minister declined to comment when asked about the procurement process that led to the involvement of Trivandi in the running of pilot events.
She said a further announcement about the range of ERP pilots shows will be made within the next week.