July 13, 2024

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Covid UK: More than 830,000 schoolchildren in England were out of class last week

Furious education leaders have slammed the Government’s self-isolation policy after official figures showed that 747,000 children in England were absent from school last week because they were forced to quarantine after coming into possible contact with a Covid-19 case. 

More than 830,000 state school pupils did not attend class for coronavirus-related reasons on July 8, up from 8.5 per cent on July 1 and 5.1 per cent on June 24, according to Department for Education statistics published today.

These include approximately 747,000 children self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, 35,000 pupils with a suspected case of coronavirus and 39,000 with a confirmed case.

The latest figures come after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced last week that the use of ‘bubbles’ in schools and colleges in England will come to an end as the country moves towards easing lockdown restrictions.

Current rules say that children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble – which can be an entire year group at secondary school – tests positive for coronavirus. But Mr Williamson has said it will be up to individual schools and colleges as to whether they scrap the bubble system on Monday ahead of the summer holidays, following the move to Step 4 of the road map.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘This further large increase in Covid-related pupil absence is more evidence, if it were needed, of the crisis in schools and colleges caused directly by the rules requiring teachers to send home large numbers of children to self-isolate who do not necessarily have the virus.’ 

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, told MailOnline: ‘Youngsters are at greater risk of harm in crossing the road than they are from the Covid virus and most parents and grandparents have been vaccinated and are not at risk. Sending home scores of pupils because one child may carry the virus is hugely damaging to the vast majority of pupils. 

‘School management is descending into madness. Only children who test positive and feel unwell, should be sent home. The others need to start catching up on all the learning they have missed out on during lockdown.’ 

As the coronavirus crisis enters its next crucial phase, it emerged:   

  • Downing Street hinted there could be another lockdown to tackle coronavirus at the end of the year; 
  • The Test, Trace & Isolate system is set to stay until at least next year despite alarm over rising numbers of healthy people being doomed to house arrest;
  • Britain’s rise in cases means it beats almost all of the countries on its amber list in terms of daily infections;
  • Nicola Sturgeon defied Boris Johnson by keeping masks mandatory in Scotland even after lockdown ends;
  • Nightclubs, music venues, theatres and busy pubs will be encouraged to ask for Covid status;
  • More than two million vulnerable people will be advised to minimise social contact until the third wave stops;  
  • Sajid Javid confirmed that fully vaccinated frontline NHS staff would be exempted from self-isolation rules; 
  • Ministers prepared to push through regulations today requiring care home staff to have the Covid jab;
  • The Commons authorities faced criticism for suggesting staff will have to wear masks when MPs can opt out;
  • Tory politicians warned the economy would ‘grind to a halt’ unless self-isolation rules were scaled back.
Covid-related pupil absence in England has hit a new record high since all students fully returned to class in March this year, with more than 830,000 children out of school last week, Government figures show (stock)

Covid-related pupil absence in England has hit a new record high since all students fully returned to class in March this year, with more than 830,000 children out of school last week, Government figures show (stock)

About one in nine (11.2 per cent) state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19 related reasons on July 8, up from 8.5 per cent on July 1 and 5.1 per cent on June 24, according to Department for Education statistics (stock)

About one in nine (11.2 per cent) state school pupils did not attend class for Covid-19 related reasons on July 8, up from 8.5 per cent on July 1 and 5.1 per cent on June 24, according to Department for Education statistics (stock)

The latest figures come after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced last week that the use of “bubbles” in schools and colleges in England will come to an end as the country moves towards easing lockdown restrictions

The latest figures come after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced last week that the use of ‘bubbles’ in schools and colleges in England will come to an end as the country moves towards easing lockdown restrictions

Quarter of vulnerable Brits are still shielding despite guidance dropping in APRIL as ministers say 3.8million at-risk adults in England should wait three weeks until after second Covid jab before meeting anyone 

More than a quarter of extremely vulnerable people in England are still shielding despite official guidance to do so dropping in April, Government data shows.

An Office for National Statistics report published today found 29 per cent of immunosuppressed patients or those with severe underlying health conditions were still following stay at home orders by the end of June.

Strict shielding guidance was issued during the initial lockdown last spring and applied to nearly 4million people in England who were deemed most at risk of dying from Covid, including cancer and heart disease patients.

The advice was dropped on April 1 when the second wave was flattened, infection levels were low and the vast majority of shielders had been invited for their Covid vaccines.  

No10 updated its guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people last night to say they should wait three weeks after their second jab before being in ‘close contact’ with anyone. 

The latest attendance figures, which have been adjusted to exclude those year 11-13 students not expected to attend because they are off-site, show that an estimated 80.4 per cent of state school pupils in England were in class on July 8, down from 83.4 per cent on July 1 and 87.4 per cent on June 24, the DfE said.

In secondary schools, only 73.6 per cent attended class, down from 76.9 per cent on the previous week, while 85.1 per cent of pupils attended primary school, down from 87.8 per cent on July 1.

The number of pupils self-isolating due to a potential contact with a Covid-19 case from inside the school rose in just one week from around 471,000 children on July 1 to 624,000 pupils on July 8.

A further 123,000 pupils were self-isolating due to a possible contact outside school, up from 90,000 the previous week.

Meanwhile, about 39,000 pupils were off after testing positive for Covid-19, up from 28,000, and 35,000 pupils were absent because they suspected they had Covid-19, up from 34,000. 

About 0.3 per cent of pupils were absent on July 8 because their school was closed due to Covid-19 related reasons, compared with 0.2 per cent the previous week. 

The Government has announced that from August 16, children in England will only need to self-isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19.

A DfE spokesperson said: ‘Our priority is for schools and colleges to deliver face-to-face, high quality education to all pupils as we know that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.

‘The Government has balanced education and health considerations, and from 19 July schools will no longer need to operate a bubble system, while from 16 August pupils will not need to self-isolate should they come into contact with a positive case, in line with the position for wider society.

‘We will continue to keep these measures under review, in partnership with health experts and informed by the latest scientific evidence and advice.’

Mr Barton added: ‘The Government’s decision to end this disruptive policy when the autumn term begins now heralds another huge set of challenges for education settings. 

‘They need substantial support, both financially and practically, in setting up on-site asymptomatic testing for students when they return in September, installing high-quality air ventilation systems and in having robust outbreak management plans ready.’ 

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said the attendance figures ‘made for grim reading’ and he accused the Government of losing control of the situation.

He warned: ‘Simply changing the rules around self-isolation is not a proper solution. The Government must take urgent action to drive down case numbers amongst school-aged children and implement alternative safety measures in key areas such as ventilation.

‘A policy of doing nothing and hoping for the best next term not only fails to address the problem, it risks making things worse.’ 

Mr Brook added: ‘The Government’s wider narrative around relaxation of safety measures appears to be at complete odds with the reality in schools right now.’

Current rules say that children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble - which can be an entire year group at secondary school - tests positive for coronavirus (stock)

Current rules say that children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble – which can be an entire year group at secondary school – tests positive for coronavirus (stock)

Britain today recorded 50 Covid deaths, while cases jumped by a quarter in a week to 36,660

Britain today recorded 50 Covid deaths, while cases jumped by a quarter in a week to 36,660

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Simply hoping for the best did not prevent the Delta variant breaching our borders, and hoping for the best will not be sufficient support for school and college leaders who need the backing of Government to stay open safely and sustainably when case counts rise. 

‘We can all hope for the best but we must plan for something that is less than the best.’ 

The Education Secretary previously announced it would be up to individual schools as to whether they scrap the bubble system before the summer holidays, following the expected move to Step 4 after July 19.

Updated Department for Education guidance says keeping children in consistent bubbles will not be needed for summer provision, or in the autumn.

In addition to ending bubbles, Mr Williamson said it will ‘not be necessary to stagger start and finish times’ at schools.

He told the Commons: ‘We recognise that the system of bubbles and isolation is causing disruption to many children’s education. That is why we’ll be ending bubbles and transferring contact tracing to the NHS Test and Trace system for early years settings, schools and colleges.’

Mr Williamson added: ‘I do not think it is acceptable that children should face greater restrictions over and above those of wider society, especially since they have given up so much to keep older generations safe during this pandemic.’

From July 19, schools will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing and NHS Test and Trace will instead identify close contacts of positive cases. Face coverings will also no longer be advised for pupils, staff and visitors, either in classrooms or in communal areas.

But the Education Secretary said ‘some protective measures’ – such as enhanced hygiene and ventilation – will remain in place for the autumn term.

He told MPs: ‘Secondary schools and colleges will be asked to provide two on-site tests to their students at the start of term, with regular home testing continuing until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.’

What Covid ‘freedoms’ will mean for YOU: Do I have to wear a mask at the supermarket? Can I order at the bar? Will I need two jabs to go to a nightclub? And what about WFH?

With Freedom Day set to go ahead next Monday, businesses across England are preparing to wave farewell to most mandatory coronavirus restrictions.

But the Prime Minister’s cautious approach means the legal end to rules such as face masks and social distancing does not mean an immediate return to normality.

For Britons are still expected to be asked by firms to wear masks in many walks of life such as while shopping in supermarkets and travelling on public transport.

And venues such as nightclubs are being urged to require ‘Covid certification’ as a condition of entry, although some have already said they will not do this.

The movement towards businesses deciding what is best for them will lead to a very different approach to the blanket rules the country has become used to. 

And Sage member Professor Graham Medley said mask-wearing ‘probably won’t do any good’ when the Government ends the legal requirement for the protection. 

Here, MailOnline looks at what life will look like in England from next Monday: 

MASKS

LAW: All laws mandating the wearing of masks will be scrapped

ADVICE: The Prime Minister said people should continue to wear masks in confined spaces where they might meet people they would not ordinarily meet. Guidance published last night said: ‘Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.’ 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

LAW: The two-metre rule is officially being lifted on 19 July, as well as the rule of six which restricts how many can gather together

ADVICE: In fact, people are now being strongly advised to ‘minimise the number, proximity and duration of social contacts’. Chris Whitty even suggested that people should avoid ‘unnecessary meetings’ – and said everyone should continue to abide by ‘hands, face, space’.

SUPERMARKETS  

Sainsbury’s – The chain told MailOnline it is ‘working through the details of the government’s announcement on the easing of restrictions and will keep our customers and colleagues updated’.

Morrisons – The supermarket is believed to be waiting for the Government’s plan and workplace guidance to be published, which will then reviewed in line with its own policies before any decision is made.

Asda – The supermarket said on Twitter today that ‘as per government guidance we will encourage shoppers to wear a mask, however this will be down to the individual as to whether or not they wish to wear a mask when shopping in store’.

Co-op – The chain is yet to make a decision on masks, with a spokesman telling MailOnline it is ‘reviewing our policy in light of the new Government announcement’.

Iceland – An Iceland spokesman told MailOnline today that it was ‘currently reviewing our policies in line with the latest updates from the Government on the easing of restrictions, and will continue to do so as further updates are provided’. It added: ‘The safety of our customers and colleagues will continue to be our priority as restrictions are eased and we will update on any changes as we are able to do so.’

Waitrose – The supermarket told MailOnline that bosses are ‘awaiting Government guidance and we will work through that when we have it’. 

Tesco – Not yet responded.

Aldi  – Not yet responded.

Lidl – Not yet responded. 

Marks & Spencer – Not yet responded.

 

RESTAURANTS AND CAFES

Nandos – The chain told MailOnline that masks ‘will be worn at the discretion of staff and customers’ and hand sanitiser ‘will remain on offer at every restaurant’. It said the rule of six will no longer apply ‘so larger tables will be allowed’ and it will start  accepting walk-ups again, but till safety screens and enhanced cleaning will remain.  

Mitchells & Butlers – A spokesman told MailOnline that it looks forward to ‘trading again without restrictions and at full capacity, allowing our business to continue its recovery from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.’ He added: ‘As we progress to trading without legal restrictions guest and team member safety will remain our top priority. We will confirm what our policies will be from July 19 in due course.’

McDonalds – The chain told MailOnline it was not yet able to share any updates. 

KFC – Not yet responded.

Burger King – Not yet responded.

Pizza Express – Not yet responded.

Costa – Not yet responded. 

Caffe Nero – Not yet responded.

Starbucks – Not yet responded.

Pret – Not yet responded.

Wagamama – Not yet responded. 

PUBS  

Star Pubs – Bosses are waiting on the detailed government workplace guidance which is expected later today, and it will then be up to staff and customers to make their own decisions on face masks and socially distancing. Most of Star Pubs are leased and tenanted, which means it will effectively be up to each pub to decide.  

Youngs – The chain told MailOnline today: ‘We will no longer ask staff or customers to wear masks. We will leave it to them to decide for themselves to or not to wear masks. We will be lifting social distancing in pubs and operating in line with all the latest government guidance.’ The pubs will also maintain additional cleaning protocols and other measures such as increased ventilation, with windows and doors open ‘at every opportunity’.

Wetherspoon – Not yet responded.

Greene King – Not yet responded.

Fullers – Not yet responded.

City Pubs – Not yet responded.

Stonegate – Not yet responded.

TRANSPORT 

Trains – The Rail Delivery Group, which represents UK train operators, such as Avanti West Coast, TransPennine Express and Southeastern, told MailOnline today that rail companies ‘will ask people to follow the government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy’. A spokesman added that train travel is ‘low risk, with the majority of carriages well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows’. She added that as restrictions lift, they will continue carrying out extra cleaning and providing better information about how busy services are, so that ‘passengers can travel with confidence’.

Buses and coaches – The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach industry including National Express and Megabus, has called for clearer regulations from the Government but said in the absence of that, passengers’ choices will be respected.  A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We expect that many people, especially in busy places, will follow the Prime Minister’s call to continue to wear a face covering as a courtesy to others.’ But they added that passengers ‘will find it difficult to understand why the Prime Minister has singled out public transport as somewhere to wear a face covering when a range of other activities share its characteristics’. A spokesman continued: ‘We now need to see clear guidance for operators and customers but, in the absence of regulations, it is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering. The industry is doing everything it can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Operators will continue to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes, ensure buses are well ventilated and provide tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance.’

National Express – A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are all responsible for keeping each other safe. We are advising customers to follow the guidance for the relevant country they are travelling in. We will ask them to continue to be considerate of others and respect their personal choices.’ 

Transport for London – No decision announced yet for mask wearing on the Overground, Underground or bus services in London. TfL has not responded. Mayor Sadiq Khan has been considering a bid to force passengers to keep wearing masks. 

Free Now – A spokesman for the car ride-hailing app told MailOnline: ‘We are working with regulators to understand if there will still be industry-wide requirements on mask-wearing from Jul 19. Whilst we await this, we will recommend face masks to customers and drivers but give them both the choice on what to do, leaving them with the freedom to agree what is comfortable for them during a ride.’

Uber – Not yet responded.

Ola – Not yet responded.

Bolt – Not yet responded.

Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association – Not yet responded.

 

PERSONAL SERVICES

National Hair & Beauty Federation –  Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NHBF, told MailOnline that the industry group supports the Government over it making the wearing of face masks will be recommended but not mandatory, for close contact services where a mask does not get in the way of the service being delivered. But he added: ‘Everyone will still need to think about how to reduce the risk to themselves and to others. If salons or individual hair and beauty professionals prefer for clients to keep their masks on for some or all of their treatments, it’s important that that they make this clear before their appointment to avoid any awkwardness. This could be through a notice on the website or social media, as well as telling them directly when they book.’ 

Toni & Guy – Not yet responded.

Rush Hair – Not yet responded.

HOLIDAYS AND HOTELS

Centre Parcs –  Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said today that staff and guests will be encouraged to wear masks at his resorts because public health is ‘absolutely our number one priority’. However, he also told Radio 4’s Today programme that he will not be ‘policing’ the advice, and no one will have to present vaccine passports. Mr Dalby added: ‘We’re not going to open up everything from next Monday, it’s going to be gradual and we will keep it under constant review. The health and safety of both our employees and our guests is absolutely our number one priority. So there will still be limited numbers of activities, limited numbers in terms of restaurants and cafes, and we will take a gradual approach to this.’ 

Radisson – The hotel chain said ‘local regulations’ will be followed on measures such as wearing face masks, with a spokesman telling MailOnline: ‘Specifically for the UK this means that, in accordance with the guidelines issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday July 12, Radisson Hotel Group will continue to recommend face masks for its employees in indoor situations.’ 

Butlins – Not yet responded.

Haven Holidays – Not yet responded.

Hilton – Not yet responded. 

Marriott – Not yet responded. 

Travelodge  Not yet responded.

Premier Inn – Not yet responded.

Holiday Inn – Not yet responded.

Novotel – Not yet responded.

Crowne Plaza – Not yet responded.

Ibis – Not yet responded.

Best Western – Not yet responded.

Mercure – Not yet responded.

WORKING FROM HOME

LAW: The long-standing government ‘work from home’ order is being officially scrapped.

ADVICE: The PM urged people not to rush back to the office, saying he did not expect the whole country to return on Monday. The guidance states: ‘Whilst government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.’

NatWest – The bank told MailOnline it will ‘be inviting a small number of colleagues in England to return to the office’ from next Monday, and will ‘encourage colleagues in England to continue wearing masks in our buildings and branches’. It will also ‘maintain social distancing measures in our buildings and branches for colleagues at this time’. A NatWest Group spokesman said: ‘Our current plan is to start to implement a phased return to the workplace, with our priority workers returning from 19 July, and to adapt to our new ways of working over the summer, with the majority of UK staff expected to be back in the office in September. This is dependent on government and public health advice, across the different jurisdictions in which we operate which we will continue to monitor closely.’ The bank’s ‘priority workers’ are defined as ‘those who are key workers, in regulated roles, where there is a client need, and people who need to work in the office for wellbeing reasons’. It added: ‘Under our new ways of working framework, we expect around 87 per cent of our colleagues to adopt a hybrid working pattern.’

London Stock Exchange – The LSE said it is not implementing any changes to its Covid-19 guidance from next Monday, although it does expect more people to return to its UK offices from September. 

Amazon – Amazon is not implementing any changes to its working guidance from next Monday, although it does have return to office guidance for corporate employees which is set to come in from September. This states that its new baseline will be three days a week in the office, leaving flexibility to work remotely up to two days a week. Separately, corporate employees will have the choice to work up to four weeks per year fully remote from a domestic location, without the expectation that they will commute into an office during that time.

Vodafone – A Vodafone spokesman told MailOnline that the company intends to welcome its UK office-based teams back from September. She added: We will be taking a flexible approach, with a combination of home-working and time together in offices. We aim to work in a way which offers the best of both virtual and office-based working. The extent of virtual working will vary by role, and our offices will evolve to become places where we can come together when needed for connection, collaboration and creation. Our priority, of course, is to keep everyone safe, and we’ll adapt our plans if we need to as circumstances change.’

Goldman Sachs – The company has not sent any new communication to staff since a memo at the start of May, in which the company said 60 per cent of its London staff had been into the office at least once in the previous month. Its offices at Plumtree Court have been open throughout the pandemic and since the lockdown has been lifted, it has seen a gradual uptick in numbers of staff returning. Now, the company is at roughly 40 to 45 per cent staff back in its London office, which works out at about 2,300 employees. It has also asked staff for their vaccination status. 

British American Tobacco – A BAT spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Our number one priority continues to be to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees and we are following UK Government workplace guidelines. Once the Health and Safety Executive has released its updated COVID secure workplace guidance, we will take some time to understand what is needed to ensure a safe return to site.’ 

Aviva  – The insurance company told MailOnline that they ‘look forward to welcoming our colleagues back into our offices’, adding: ‘We expect to see more of our people returning and will encourage them to remain aware of what they can do to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Our focus continues to be on the safety and wellbeing of our people, customers and communities.’ The company also said that the ‘vast majority of people at Aviva want to work flexibly in future’. It continued: ‘Our people need to work in ways that deliver the best outcomes for our business and our customers. That will involve some time in an office for most people, for example for team meetings and when work benefits from face-to-face collaboration. This will vary by role and we’re supporting leaders to help their teams navigate this transition to smart working. We’re reshaping our office space to reflect this, with more areas for breakouts and collaboration and less space dedicated to rows of desks.’ 

Santander – The bank has decided that its current working from home arrangements for non-branch roles will not change before September 6, but added: ‘There will be more opportunities for colleagues to work from an office as restrictions are eased across the UK.’ It is planning for a phased return in two months’ time and will be maintaining safety measures such as hand sanitiser and temperature scanning. 

Nationwide – The building society said that throughout the pandemic, it has kept its offices open for those that needed to come in. A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘N ow that the message from the government has changed, we will slowly open more space and continue to monitor the guidelines. Back in March we announced our Work Anywhere approach that gives colleagues the flexibility to work in a way that’s best for them. We know that just 6 per cent of colleagues want to work in an office full time and we’ll continue to embrace this new way of working to ensure it works for both Nationwide and our colleagues.’ The company added that it will ‘monitor and review colleague feedback, office capacity and the guidance ensuring that people are given enough space and are able to respect peoples choices and ensure colleagues feel comfortable’. The spokesman also said: ‘Colleagues in our offices can wear face coverings if they choose to.’

HSBC – Not yet responded.

Barclays – Not yet responded.

Lloyds – Not yet responded.

Standard Chartered – Not yet responded.

Facebook – Not yet responded.

Google – Not yet responded.

Apple – Not yet responded. 

Unilever – Not yet responded.

Associated British Foods – Not yet responded.

GlaxoSmithKline – Not yet responded.

Reckitt Benckiser Group – Not yet responded.

Diageo – Not yet responded.

BT – Not yet responded. 

O2 – Not yet responded.

EE – Not yet responded.

IAG – Not yet responded. 

PWC – Not yet responded. 

COVID PASSPORTS 

LAW: The public had been told that Covid status certification would not be needed over the summer, but that they could be introduced over the autumn and winter 

ADVICE: Owners of busy indoor venues such as nightclubs and busy city-centre bars have been told to consider bringing in the passports. The government will ‘encourage’ businesses and large events to use the NHS Covid Pass in ‘high risk settings’ – that is, where people are likely to be in ‘close proximity to others outside their household’. Few details have been given, but the guidance could cover theatres, cinemas, indoor concerts and exhibitions. The government many consider mandating certification in certain venues at a later date.

Night Time Industries Association – Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the decision to go ahead with the reopening was ‘the correct one’, adding that the Government were ‘right not to mandate the use of Covid status certification systems’. He continued: ‘Much of the night-time economy relies on spontaneous consumers and by permitting businesses to opt out the Government have allowed for this trade to continue.’

Proud – Alex Proud, owner of Proud nightclubs, said the plan for Covid passports was ‘deeply worrying and frustrating because it’s discriminatory against younger people who are less likely to have been able to have the vaccinations.’ He told the BBC: ‘We emphasise that we’ve invested in sanitation and we feel these measures are adequate rather than overly authoritarian Covid passports.’

Pryzm, Bar&Beyond, Eden and Fiction – Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Bar&Beyond, Eden and Fiction, said he was ‘thrilled’ to be able to reopen next Monday ‘at full capacity and without any requirement for a negative Covid test, something we believe would create a barrier to both customer enjoyment and getting the industry back on its feet’. He said reopened nightclubs will operate as pubs are currently running. 

Music festivals – Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said the body was working with the relevant Government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer. He added: ‘Organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including Covid certification where considered appropriate. Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.’

Live music events – Greg Parmley, chief executive of music industry trade body Live, said the live music industry had been ‘devastated’ by the pandemic, losing over 85 per cent of its income in 2020. He added: ‘We are delighted to finally start to reopen on July 19. Being able to reopen safely has always been extremely important to us, which is why the industry has participated in and paid for, a number of Government pilot events. We are experts at managing risk and know that as restrictions ease, public health needs could also change at varying rates across the country. We were supportive of mandatory Covid certification for large events to allow us to reopen and now expect those large events, where organisers feel it is necessary, to move forward with certification to build customer confidence.’ He also said that the industry needs a ‘Government-backed insurance scheme to provide us with financial security’ amid uncertainty over whether any restrictions will have to return.