The Prime Minister has now confirmed the final easing of legally enforceable Covid-19 restrictions in England, along with a reduced system of testing that ends freely available PCR and Lateral Flow tests from April, except for those at high risk. April 1st will also see an end to the recommendation for Covid status certification.
In a statement, AIF CEO, Paul Reed said:
“While we welcome legal restrictions around Covid-19 coming to an end and the prospect of a full capacity festival season, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt by the independent festival sector and the need for Government action remains. With festival organisers facing crippling cost increases of up to 30% across operations and infrastructure, this is not back to business as usual for festivals and it is not a case of ‘job done’ for Ministers.
“AIF reiterates its call for ongoing support from Government in the form of continued VAT relief on festival tickets to maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March; and to also explore some form of Government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain.”
Echoing those thoughts, Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE said:
“The end of COVID-19 restrictions represents a huge, welcome relief to the live music sector, which lost billions in revenue throughout the pandemic. But with spiralling costs and thousands of companies struggling with pandemic debt, it’s crucial that Government does not abandon and set the sector adrift, just as it starts to tread water again.
“We are calling for a reverse to the planned hike in VAT rates and the imminent end to business rates relief in order to avoid further business closures and job losses within our sector.”
Michael Kill CEO NTIA said:
“The withdrawal of the remaining covid restrictions is welcomed by the industry, and will further support business recovery and go some way to regaining customer confidence.”
“Our responsibility to keep customers and staff safe remains our focus, maintaining baseline mitigations as we have done since the 19th July 2021.”
“Experts have suggested that recovery to pre covid trading levels will take several years, but we cannot lose sight of the short term role that the Government must continue to play in supporting the sector, beginning with the Chancellor’s budget in March.”
“The extension of VAT & Business rates relief remains a key ask, allowing businesses the financial headroom to survive, on this long road to recovery.”
“Given the commitment and support, over the last 2 years, that the sector has given to the Government’s public health strategy, it is only right that they recognise and support the hardest hit industries through the final phase of this crisis.”
A UK Door Security Association spokesperson added:
“During this extremely challenging time, door security resource levels remain at a critical level, with suppliers, licensed operators and the regulator working hard to continue to keep people safe on the frontline.”
“The announcement by the PM of the withdrawal of the remaining Covid restrictions, particularly the withdrawal of isolation rules and the closure of covid testing sites will be a boost to resource levels across the security industry”
“It is important as we move into the summer that we regain and build on pre pandemic security resource levels in line with demand. This summer will see the rejuvenation of the festival season after two years of lost trade, and will need the security sector to be at its best.”