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Smaller festivals could take place safely this summer, MPs told

“The idea that the festivals can’t go ahead and be socially-distanced is inaccurate”

Festivals of a smaller scale could take place safely this summer with proper coronavirus measure in place, UK MPs have been told.

Speaking to the House of Commons Culture Select Committee, Rowan Cannon of festival organisers Wild Rumpus said that, with social-distancing and appropriate safety measures, small festivals should be “as safe as Sainsbury’s”.

“The idea that the festivals can’t go ahead and be socially-distanced is inaccurate,” she continued. “We can absolutely adapt our programming, put infrastructure in place, [and] change the way that we do things, to enable something to happen with social distancing in place.”

Cannon’s comments come as concerns mount in the UK that festival season may be cancelled for a second year in a row due to coronavirus. In January, Glastonbury’s organisers announced that the festival would not be taking place this year, and many fear that its cancellation is just the tip of the iceberg of mass postponements expected for the year as the pandemic rages on. 

Those concerns were vocalised by Notting Hill Carnival organiser Matthew Phillip, who also spoke to the House of Commons Culture Select Committee. “It would be very difficult to hold Carnival in its traditional format on the streets with social distancing in place,” he said.

“Carnival means too much to too many people for us to simply ignore it so we would always try to find a way of celebrating Carnival for its artistry and what it means to the community,” Philip continued. 

MPs had warned in December, that festivals may not be able to take place in 2021, while some festival organisers offered their expertise and spaces to aiding the vaccine roll-out. With the danger of a second year without festivals looming, last year’s warning that the UK's independent festival industry faces collapse without government aid feels doubly concerning. 

It’s not just festival’s either. Up and down the country, nightclubs and live music venues have stood silent for almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rapidly changing government restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 have halted any stable reopening of the night-time industry, forcing venues to reinvent themselves in order to survive. From transforming into foodbanks to operating as coronavirus testing centres, DJ Mag recently spoke to some of the UK’s nightclubs and music venues to find out what they’ve been up to over the past year