During DCMS Parliamentary Questions this morning, 1 July, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the Government is poised to provide cancelation insurance for the live event sector from 19 July, should the commercial market not be in a position to provide it. However, he declined to provide any details of whether event reopening guidelines would be issued in the near future.
Asked by Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens to provide a “straight yes or no” answer to her question as to whether the Government would underwrite a time-limited insurance scheme for the live events industry, Downden said his department was engaging with Treasury on the proposal.
“I very much understand the industry’s desire for insurance and I have engaged with them,” said Downden. “I have said all along that, as with film and TV insurance, the first step is to get all the other restrictions removed, and we are making very good progress towards doing that on the 19th [July].
“At that point, if it is the case that there is a market failure – namely that the commercial insurance providers cannot insure for that – we will look at whether we can extend insurance with some sort of government-backed scheme.
“We are engaging extensively with the Treasury and other government departments to see what that might look like.”
Stevens also took the opportunity to ask the secretary of state whether event operators could expect to see reopening guidelines published in the imminent future.
She said, “Festivals continue to be cancelled, even those scheduled after the 19 July like WOMAD, because the Government still hasn’t published any guidance about sector reopening. [Government] were forced into publishing the results of the Events Research Programme last week after our urgent question. There is also briefing to the press that night clubs, for example, are going to reopen with no testing or proof of vaccine requirements. Businesses have had 15 long months of this chaos, [Dowden] won’t confirm insurance now, and he won’t publish guidance so can he explain how festivals and live events scheduled for after 19 July can go ahead?”
In response, Dowden said, “We are making very good progress toward 19 July and I really do hope and expect that given that the evidence is suggesting that despite rising infections we’re breaking that linkage to hospitalisations and deaths, we will be able to have the full reopening from the 19th.
“We’ve always said that we will clarify and confirm that at least a week in advance, that would be by the 12 July. In terms of wider support, festivals have benefited from millions of pounds through the Cultural Recovery Fund, and of course at least one of our Events Research Programme pilot is in relation to a festival.”
The London Evening Standard has reported that venues and festivals will be able to reopen from 19 July without the requirement for attendees to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test or having been vaccinated.