The COVID-19 situation is certainly fast-moving. Yesterday afternoon, various UK music bodies criticised the British government heavily for advising people not to go to public venues including pubs, clubs and concert venues without actually ordering those places to close – the concern being that this would not enable them to claim on their insurance policies.
“The Government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place,” said Tom Kiehl, acting CEO of UK Music.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement amounts to a ban on live events and while we understand the measures taken, we also urge the Government to classify it as such. The lack of such clarification creates widespread confusion and greatly harms promoters’ efforts to weather this unprecedented storm,” added Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals. Yet later in the afternoon, the UK’s chancellor [finance minister] Rishi Sunak announced “first steps” including a £350bn package of loans and grants for British businesses of all kinds, with particular focus on companies in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.
The Musicians Union, which had been among the bodies criticising the government, welcomed the move: “Support for our globally respected network of live performance venues at this time is crucial. The issues triggered by the virus outbreak, and the resulting threat to our music culture base, demand that clubs, pubs, managers and promoters receive such key financial assistance.” This may be a UK story, but it mirrors the debates going on across the world, as self-isolation measures roll out to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.