Step 4: 'Freedom Day' decision to be made on 12 July
The events industry is poised to fully reopen in England on 19 July once the Government makes its final decision on moving to Step 4 on 12 July.
Addressing the public from Downing Street, 5 July, prime minister Boris Johnson said that once Step 4 is enabled, all restrictions would be lifted, becoming optional in most circumstances, and that there would be no legal requirement for any form of Covid-status certification – proof of vaccination, negative test, or natural antibodies.
This would mean that events of all types would not need to enforce social distancing or enforce the wearing of face coverings. However, the prime minister did say that individual event organisers may wish to implement their own measures, which may include their own version of Covid-status certification, face coverings or restricted capacities. Essentially, organisers will need to respond to the sentiments of their delegates or visitors.
The prime minister said: “There will be no Covid certificate required as a condition of entry to any venue or event although businesses and events can certainly make use of certification and the NHS app.”
The prime minister reiterated that no final decision would be made on the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ until 12 July. Alongside chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance, prime minister Johnson said that the link between infection and hospitalisation (and subsequent mortality) had been "weakened", although not completely broken.
Professor Chris Whitty warned that some restrictions may be required in the winter months but did not elaborate beyond echoing prime minister Johnson that the Covid-19 pandemic was “not over.” For the events industry, this would no doubt require clear and fair guidance from insurance companies.
The prime minister announced a five-step plan to be affected post 19 July, which includes reducing the time between doses from 12 to eight weeks and maintaining border controls.
More definitive guidance for the events industry has not yet been published, and may not be released until after 12 July. The latest on today's update can be read here.
When asked by BBC journalist Vicky Young why now was the time to consider a full unlocking, prime minister Johnson said: “We always did say there would be a third wave, and sadly more deaths. But the question people have to ask themselves is if we don't go ahead now, when the summer firebreak and the school holidays are coming up, then when would we go ahead? The virus will have an extra advantage in winter.”
His comments were backed up by Professor Whitty.
Speaking on behalf of the Events Industry Alliance (EIA), Chris Skeith said he was “delighted” to hear the announcement that the events sector is soon to be released, mitigation and capacity free come 19 July, subject to the 12 July confirmation.
“We would like to thank everyone – members and non-members, officials and supporters – for their contributions, collaboration, and unity to date, and more so now than ever as we restart the sector, we must continue to work together to rebuild our wonderful industry.
“We finally have a full ‘go date’, however we must ensure this is not taken away, and there are still a number of issues to resolve as we restart and rebuild, such as guidance, insurance, skills and talent gaps, Brexit and the need for financial support for the sector until we are back up to speed.
“While we can take a moment to celebrate, we must remain steadfast in our dialogue with government to ensure we are front and centre in future policy and decision making, and the economic benefits of events are recognised in the rebuilding of the UK economy.”
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will announce their plans.