Downing Street has said the government will publish the evidence gathered from piloting mass events such as concerts and festivals “shortly”, as music industry figures including Andrew Lloyd Webber take legal action in an effort to force its disclosure.
Lloyd Webber is among a group of people including the impresario Cameron Mackintosh who have instigated legal proceedings against the government over its events research programme.
Some of the pilot events, which have included the Download music festival, the snooker world championships and a club night in Liverpool, took place as long ago as April and government sources say the results have been encouraging.
Music industry figures believe Number 10 has been reluctant to publish the results for fear of cutting across the cautious messaging it has stuck to since delaying the 21 June reopening.
“We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly,” Lloyd Webber said in a statement. “The government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on, whilst cherrypicking high-profile sporting events to go ahead. The situation is beyond urgent.”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “These pilots provide real life data so we can fully understand any benefits, problems or challenges with mass events.”
Asked why the findings had not been published, he said: “We’re assessing the evidence as we speak.” They were likely to appear“shortly”, he added.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is overseeing the testing programme and a board of scientific experts is has been analysing the data.
The findings are expected to include advice for the organisers of future events on issues such as distancing and ventilation. Participants have been tested in the run-up to the events and again afterwards.
The events research programme report is one of four studies announced when the reopening roadmap for England was first published in February. All are expected to be published as the final lifting of restrictions approaches.
The other studies cover the use of Covid certificates to facilitate reopening, the future of social distancing advice such as the “1 metre plus” rule and options for international travel. Government sources said they expected all four to be published at once.
Downing Street has signalled that it expects most formal regulations to be lifted on 19 July, what the prime minister has called the “terminus” date on which the final stage of the roadmap is due to come into force.
Working from home guidance is expected to be scrapped, for example, with the emphasis placed instead on personal responsibility. Masks may be recommended in specific circumstances, but are unlikely to be legally required.