UK music festivals poised to rock despite high COVID-19 cases


  • Large gatherings planned across England
  • Negative COVID test or proof of vaccination required
  • UK COVID-19 cases on the rise due to Delta variant

LONDON, Aug. 27 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of revelers will take part in late summer music festivals across Britain this weekend, armed with negative COVID tests or proof of vaccination with the aim of curbing the increase in infections.

Reading and Leeds, twin events that are a rite of passage for teens after the exam, will be two of the biggest since the government lifted restrictions in July following a rapid vaccine rollout. The reading had a capacity of 105,000 in 2019.

Monday being a public holiday in England, other large gatherings are organized across the country, including the Creamfields event of 70,000 people in the North West of England. The traditional Notting Hill Carnival in London has, however, been canceled once again.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said this month that a successful staging of the British Grand Prix and the Wimbledon tennis tournament last month showed mass events can be safely staged, but that caution was required in crowded environments.

However, many health experts remain concerned that people are losing their inhibitions in arousal, causing cases to spike.

Euro 2020 tournament football matches and a surf festival in Cornwall have already led to significant outbreaks in one of the countries hardest hit by the virus.

Cornwall council said 4,700 cases could be linked to the Boardmasters festival, which drew around 50,000 people to the small seaside town of Newquay this month.

Meradin Peachey, director of public health for the region that covers Reading in west London, said a spike was a concern given older teens were only offered vaccines this month.

“The sixteen, seventeen are the main groups that will be there and they are not covered yet,” she told BBC News. “We’re trying to get people to show proof of a lateral flow test before they even approach the doors.”

British infections have started to rise again, with around 34,000 cases and around 100 deaths reported per day last week. But hospital admissions remain well below previous peaks in the pandemic.


Scientists believe the trigger points for the spread of the virus are public transportation and shared cars to get to events, as outdoor gatherings themselves, even in large numbers, can be relatively risk-free.

Simon Clarke, associate professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, said mixing at festivals was a risk when the infection rate was around 25 times higher than a year ago thanks to the Delta variant. .

“I think there is a greater ability for people to be more intimate with each other, up close and personal, than in regimented seats that you will see somewhere like the Grand Prix,” he said. he stated, referring to the Formula 1 race.

As the music industry desperately seeks to restart touring, festival organizers say the need for a negative test or vaccine will prevent cases from increasing.

Pop-up vaccination clinics will be on-site at the Reading and Leeds festivals run by British rapper Stormzy, but no one under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be vaccinated, health organizers have said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Kate Holton; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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