Yesterday was ‘Freedom Day’ where nightclubs and other crowded venues re-opened for public access, bringing life back into the music industry. Concerns began to arise with the COVID-19 case surge since restrictions had been eased through the Prime Minister’s ‘road map’ to freedom. Boris Johnson made an announcement yesterday relaying his concern by the continued risk of transmission, especially seeing as latest figures suggest 35% of 18–30-year-olds have not had their first jab (BBC, 2021), consequently putting this group at highest risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. The Prime Minister stated in his press conference that people attending nightclubs and other crowded venues will need to be fully vaccinated from the end of September and he declined to rule out extending vaccination passports to these venues (Morrison, 2021).
Although it can be said that this is a sensible, safe option, it becomes detrimental to current and upcoming artists and workers in the music industry. Small Green Shoots allows young people to flourish in a chosen career in the music and media industry, many of these young people being DJ’s, artists, and other performers. The potential closing and limiting who can attend these venues puts immense financial strain on those who wish to pursue and maintain their careers in the sphere of music and media. Michael Kill, the CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), provides unsettling insight in to the likelihood that many nightclubs and late night venues could go out of business in 2021 due to the potential limited entry or closure due to the Government’s decision. Kill describes the government’s COVID-19 passport guidance as ‘ambiguous in its narration’ and could lead to a higher health risk than allowing licensed clubs and venues to continue to allow all people to attend. (BBC Newsnight, 2021). He states that many young people who cannot get vaccinated or chose not to will turn to illegal parties for their source of entertainment (BBC Newsnight, 2021). This poses the question, how is this safer than a licensed venue that has taken the time and effort to implement the government guidance such as COVID-19 track and trace into their running of legal, safe events?
Not only will closing and limiting entry to venues cause young people to turn to illegal parties for their entertainment, but DJ’s, artists and other workers will become financially unstable due to their limited opportunities to perform, or the fact that they cannot perform due to not being fully vaccinated. The suppression of musical expression could also lead to mental health deterioration, and the inability for charities and organisations supporting young musical talent to continue their incredible work. Boris’ ambiguity causes frustration for the public; this is meant to be final freedom after over a year of pain and uncertainty for so many. It feels like short-lived freedom. ‘This is a very dangerous game to play’ according to Kill, so what is the next move?