• Sunday, July 03, 2022

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UK to provide £750m Covid insurance for music festivals, live events

FILE PHOTO: Members of the audience arrive to take their socially distanced seats in the auditorium for a performance by German baritone Christian Gerhaher and German pianist Gerold Huber at Wigmore Hall in London on September 13, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE UK has launched a £750 million Covid insurance scheme to cover music festivals and other live events.

The sector has been demanding protection after months of mass cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, announced by the finance ministry, follows pressure from organisers and venues for the government to provide a cushion from Covid uncertainty.

It is created in partnership with UK-based Lloyd’s insurance company and will run from September 2021 until the end of September 2022 to avoid the third summer of cancellations at events such as music festivals.

The announcement comes as the government launches an advertising campaign warning under-30s they will miss out on going to nightclubs if they are not vaccinated.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak admitted while “organisers are raring to go” following the lifting of most major restrictions, “the lack of the right kind of insurance is proving a problem”.

“As the economy reopens I want to do everything I can to help events providers and small businesses plan with confidence right through to next year,” he added.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of the industry organisation UK Music, said he had warned the government of “the catastrophic impact of the market failure in insurance for live events”.

“This new government scheme is therefore incredibly welcome news –- not just for the millions of music fans who have been looking forward to the return of live events, but also for the tens of thousands of musicians, crew members,” he added.

While England removed virtually all coronavirus restrictions last month, most major festivals were forced to cancel or reduce crowd sizes well in advance because of the long lead times required for the large events.

The Glastonbury Festival, held on a dairy farm in Somerset, southwest England, announced it would cancel for the second year in a row, as the third lockdown began in January.

The festival live-streamed a concert to fans in May instead.

Other festivals directly cited the lack of a government insurance scheme as they had to refund tickers during the emergence of a new, more transmissible Delta variant of the virus.

“Though it is a shame that it has come too late for some this summer, this scheme will provide the confidence the sector needs,” the head of parliament’s commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, Julian Knight, said.

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