Reading and Leeds Festival organizers say they are “very confident” the events will continue this summer, following the announcement of plans to reduce the lockdowns and the decline transmission rate.
Under a government plan, limits on social contact in England could be gone by 21 June, if Covid is under control.
The Twin-Site Festival is expected to take place from 27 to 29 August.
“The good news is that we can be very confident that Reading and Leeds will happen,” festival manager Melvin Benn told BBC Radio 1.
Asked how the event could go ahead when others like Glastonbury were forced to cancel, he told Newsbeat of Radio 1: “In fairness, we haven’t done it, the government have done it. The government are vaccinating everybody and that’s how it’s going to happen.”
Earlier on Wednesday, on Twitter, Reading and Leeds sent a message saying: “After the government’s recent announcement, we can’t wait to return to the fields this summer. Let’s go!”
Excitement Is Building Up
Stormzy, Liam Gallagher and Queens of Stone Age have been announced as headliners, while Mabel, AJ Tracey and Doja Cat are also on the list.
“Actions are eager to play, kids are eager to come,” said Benn. “I feel that.”
The organizer told BBC Radio 4’s premier program that he believed all adults would be given a second vaccination in mid-August – two or three weeks before Reading and Leeds.
“The one thing that we can say about the prime minister is that, in terms of the vaccination roll-out, almost uniquely in the world, he has got it right,” Benn said.
“I applaud him for that, and I am going to hold his feet to the fire on it. And I think there’s going to be 200,000 young people holding his feet to the fire on that position as well.”
Suffolk’s Latitude festival, also hosted by Benn’s company Festival Republic, is expected to make an announcement about its plans for 2021 soon, he added.
Last year, he told MPs his events could not go ahead while social distancing was in place. However, he said live music could resume with mass testing of fans. It is unclear what measures will be in place this summer.
UK Music Festival
Reading and Leeds is considered by many fans as following Glastonbury in the UK music calendar of the year. Originally a rock festival, it has also seen fairy tales by Nirvana, Oasis, Guns N ‘Roses and Paramore.
More recently, it has embraced dance and hip-hop, with high-profile slots for The Prodigy, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone. This year, the festival is due to host about 200,000 fans at Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds, with two main stages at each site.
The official announcement of the festival comes 48 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his four-step plan to reduce restrictions.
Under the proposals, hospitality, including driving cinemas, could be reopened as part of the second phase in April. Pilots of indoor live events, with social distancing, could also commence at the same time.
The third step, which does not start at the beginning of May 17, could allow for a limited internal meeting. In-house concerts can be limited to 1,000 people or 50% of the maximum capacity of the stadium. Outdoor concerts and sporting events would have a maximum limit of 4,000 people – or 10,000 at scheduled events.
Returning To Normal
The road map does not provide a guarantee in these days, with every step depending on the delay in the spread of Covid-19.
Benn said he thought it was unlikely the timetable would change. “Why would it?” he asked, adding that “we have to, at some point, start planning for life to go back” to normal.
Dr Google, manager of rap act Bad Boy Chiller Crew, who are due to play Reading and Leeds, added: “Obviously anything can get cancelled but… I don’t think the music industry could last another 12 months without any live events”.
The industry has strongly welcomed the timeline for the removal of closure restrictions in England. However, it warned that live music is “behind the line to be reopened” and may still need financial help.