Liam Gallagher has been listed as one of the headliners at Reading and Leeds Festival this year (Picture: Getty)
Reading and Leeds Festival organisers have announced the three-day event will still be going ahead in August this year.
It comes in the wake of the government’s roadmap to ease lockdown in the UK by mid-June.
Of course the pandemic is ongoing, so if festivals are to take place then steps will need to be taken to make it as safe as possible.
This could include things like reducing the number of tickets sold or doubling the amount of toilets on site to allow for distancing, says festival director Tom Paine.
Other options could be requesting proof of vaccination, or rearranging the sound systems on site so people don’t feel the need to crowd close together at the front of the stage for the best experience.
Tom told Metro.co.uk: ‘This is something all festivals are considering. There is going to be a huge increase in costs, plus potentially lower capacities to be able to supply that.
Reading and Leeds Festival might consider moving sound systems so people don’t crowd to the front (Picture: Getty)
‘You’ll need double the amount of toilet facilities which have got to be hygienically maintained by a squadron of people, you need to ensure everyone is washing their hands before they go in and all that kind of management.
‘It’s about space, and hygiene and trust, trust that stuff is going to be managed well is going to be important.’
There is also the big issue of testing festival-goers and whether it would be possible to do so on site, and Tom shared that while is not yet a solid solution, organisers are working closely with the government on the best way to approach it.
‘Department for Culture, Media and Sport are publishing updated guidance for events later in March, and they are working with a really good group of people from within the industry, and a lot of organisers and health and safety specialists and crowd flow specialists from within the industry, to publish that information,’ he said.
The government hopes to ease the UK out of lockdown by June
‘The people involved are intelligent and they’re not going to suggest things that can’t work.’
Tom who runs the Bristol-set Love Saves The Day festival and Love International festival in Croatia, explained: ‘Ultimately there are hidden details in the government’s roadmap, it does refer to wearing masks and some mitigation being in place for the rest of the year, even after people have been vaccinated. If you’re trying to organise a big event right now, you’re thinking about how to provide space for people to feel safe.
‘You need to look at restricting capacities on shows where normally you would do 30,000 people. Do you need to actually try and do 15,000 people in the same space? We’re looking at sound systems, how can we create our sound systems so that people towards the back are getting as much volume as people at the front of the crowd, so they don’t feel like they have to push forward to get the best experience?
‘You consider anywhere else where there’s close contact. We’re looking at bars and food stations, we’re looking at toilets, we’re looking at the front gates and search procedures, because we’re still going to need to search backpacks – the terrorism threat hasn’t gone away.’
The Reading and Leeds Festival website currently names Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Post Malone as headliners, with the likes of Doja Cat and Queens of the Stone Age on the bill.
However that could look different by August as organisers weigh up the challenges presented by booking artists from overseas during the pandemic.
Festivals may stick to booking UK acts for the time being (Picture: WireImage)
Tom suggests it will be determined by whether it becomes ‘a legal requirement’ to be vaccinated for coronavirus before entering the UK, and thinks it will ultimately ‘come down to government policy’.
Alternatively, focus could shift to booking UK acts for headline slots to make the process smoother.
‘Headliners won’t just be flying in to do the UK, they will be doing European shows,’ Tom says.
‘There is potential for artists getting held up in a country or whatever. Reading and Leeds may focus on UK artists, and focus on new and exciting artists, which is nice to be able to do.
‘There is 12 months of music that people haven’t seen live. There’s people like Arlo Parks who had an amazing year and no one’s seen her play live yet. There is a world of new young artists people are keen to see.’
He added: ‘The smiles I think we’re gonna see in those crowds and on the faces of the performers when they’re back out there is going to pretty special.’