The first music festival to be held as part of a government test without social distancing is, according to the organizer, “100% proof” that large music events can safely take place amid the pandemic.
Melvin Benn, chief executive of the Festival Republic group, said he saw an “exceptional” level of compliance on the ground during the three-day download festival, which was faced with heavy rain and showers.
The rock and metal event, which ends on Sunday evening, takes place as part of a live government event pilot, which means fans don’t have to wear masks or social distancing – although the capacity has been significantly reduced from 111,000 to around 10,000 has been.
Mr Benn told the PA news agency, “It’s really extraordinary. It is really awesome. All of this touches me a lot.
“The extraordinary thing is that the compliance with the tests and requirements that we have is absolutely extraordinary.
“In a way you’d expect when you’re in the middle or at the end of a pandemic, this level of compliance is exceptional.
“It is paired with an equally extraordinary normality when you are not there for so long.”
When asked about the idea that it is still impossible for large music venues to be Covid-safe, he said: “It is proof that this is not true. It’s 100% proof that it’s not true. This is a very clear demonstration that you can do it. “
Headlining Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes and Enter Shikari are among the acts that performed on Friday and Saturday, while Bullet For My Valentine and Frank Turner will perform on Sunday night.
Mr Benn predicted that the data gathered at the festival would prove that similar events can take place.
He said, “In all fairness the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is on board with the message that these things can happen and they can happen safely.
“What we expect from Download is data that scientists can analyze and that effectively bolster that position, and that data is being collected, and I’m sure they will.”
The festival organizers announced in March that they would be canceling the event for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
However, the festival got the green light in May to continue as a state testing event after a number of smaller pilots and the Brit Awards in May.
Latitude, also operated by Festival Republic, announced Friday that it will be held in Suffolk between July 22nd and July 25th.
Mr Benn said he felt “adequately encouraged” after speaking with the DCMS last week to move the music, comedy and arts festival forward and suggested that the government put in place a limited coronavirus insurance system.
He said, “I believe and there is no guarantee here either, but I do believe that the government will come up with a limited, government-sponsored insurance system.
“That wouldn’t be all we want by a long way, but it would definitely give us the courage to start again.”