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Music Festivals and COVID-19 Summer 2021.

Andy Robertson

As music festivals emerged from the coronavirus pandemic there have been plenty of events taking place in the UK during August. Authorities have given the go ahead to many organisers based on the agreement to implement strict COVID-19 entry protocols but how effective have these been?

There have been numerous stories emerging form the media in recent weeks since the Boadmasters music festival in Cornwall allegedly led to 5,000 positive COVID-19 cases with a new strain of the Delta variant. Boardmasters attracted 53,000 festival-goers and the fall out after the event has led to new cases being labelled as the ‘festival variant’ by hospital staff in Devon and Cornwall. What are the implications of this for other music festivals due to take place over the coming months?

Stricter Measures. 
It is not known how vigilant organisers have been in enforcing entry requirements with regards to COVID-19 protocols. Festival organisers are obliged to check that festival-goers have evidence of vaccinations, recovery or a negative test result before allowing admittance. Have festival-goers been entirely honest with the evidence submitted and how thorough were organisers in checking accuracy. Obviously with the large numbers of festival-goers trying to gain entrance to a festival site gate staff can be under immense pressure to expedite entry. This may have allowed potentially infected festival-goers on-site. There may be other unknown factors at play too with infected people testing negative (false negative result). It is notable that since the Boardmasters event most organisers of festivals coming up in the following weeks and months have made press releases reinforcing messages about their COVID-19 protocols and notifying festival goers that measures will be strictly enforced. Some organisers have also increased sanitisation facilities and are encouraging mask wearing too.

Possible Cancellations. 
If music festivals in the UK continue to produce new infections there is a possibility they will be viewed as super spreader environments. This could lead some local authorities to consider cancelling some festivals if they believe there is a risk. With additional checks being conducted by licensing authorities on the preparations being made by festivals some organisers have already pulled the plug on their events citing logistical issues associated with COVID-19. Some notable festivals have recently been cancelled within a week of their planned dates. 

The Future.  
Festival organisers are really going to have to take their COVID-19 prevention protocols seriously but there are other factors that need consideration too. The emergence of COVID-19 infections from festival-goers may be related to travelling back and forth to the events in large numbers on public transport for example. Festival-goers should be made more aware of these dangers by organisers and take necessary precautions for their travel arrangements. 

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Image by katicaj from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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