UK: Thousands snap up tickets to party without COVID restrictions

The English city of Liverpool will hold the United Kingdom’s first dance event in more than a year without coronavirus restrictions on Friday and Saturday, as part of a mass gathering trial.

Nightlife promoter Circus will host 6,000 individuals – 3,000 each day over the two-day mini-festival – in the first UK event of its kind in 14 months due to the pandemic.

The sold-out pilot, which will include performances by English DJ and producer Fatboy Slim, is part of the British government’s “Events Research Programme” as the country looks to ease the remaining COVID-19 rules.

Data collected from the events, which require attendees to take a coronavirus lateral flow test 24 hours prior, will test the safety of large-scale gatherings before government plans to lift nearly all restrictions on June 21.

Circus co-owner DJ Yousef Zahar told the BBC it hoped to return to “pre-COVID conditions”, with revellers eventually able to enjoy themselves without social distancing, masks or alcohol rules.

“It’s very exciting but of course there’s a really serious point to all this to be able to take the information and the data … [and] move forward hopefully with a view to do the 21st of June,” he said.

Temporary venues have been prepared for the two-day event in the northwestern city, including a tent for scientists to monitor behaviour.

Liverpool’s director of public health Matt Ashton sounded a note of caution before the pilot, saying COVID-19 was “still there” and “new variants and international travel are still a real cause for concern”.

But he said “staying in lockdown is not an option” and events were “an important part of the wellbeing, social fabric and economies of communities, particularly in Liverpool”.

Britain has been one of Europe’s worst-hit countries by the pandemic, with nearly 128,000 deaths from the virus.

However, it has been able to forge ahead with a road map to unlock the economy thanks to months of strict lockdown measures and a successful vaccine rollout.

Nearly two-thirds of the adult population have now received the first dose, while more than a quarter has had both jabs.

“This hasn’t been an easy process, and it’s particularly hard as the nighttime sector hasn’t been open for over a year,” said director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan.

“But anyone who attends will not only be helping to get clubs up and running in Liverpool, they will be pioneers for the whole country,” she added.

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