How Different Are Concerts & Events in a COVID World?

By Kane Dinmore

“There is no denying it’s different but honestly it wouldn’t put me off attending at all” Lynsey Barrett

Before the Pandemic began earlier this year, socialising was at the heart of every student and concerts played a huge part in this. Going to see your favourite artist or show with you friends were ingredients for a great night and memories to remember for ever. However, in a post-COVID how are these events going to work?

Back in the summer, Newcastle hosted the world’s first socially distant concert in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The Virgin Media Unity Arena opened the gates in August and featured artists ranging from Sam Fender, Becky Hill and even 90’s pop star Ronan Keating to Drag Queens and Bongo’s Bingo.

The outdoor venue host 500 socially distant viewing platforms equipped with ice buckets, hand sanitiser and even offered bar and food service – no more waiting in long queues in cramped concert areas. The arena has a capacity capped at 2500 people which Is much lower compared to what traditional concert arenas normally hold.

Concert goer Lynsey Barrett travelled from Ayr to Newcastle to attend Klub Kid’s Drag Show and Bongo’s Bingo at the Virgin Media Unity Arena one weekend in August. Lynsey said:

“The biggest difference was the social interaction with the people around you however you have your own bubble and actually focus on the company around you which I liked”

Safety is a massive concerns when thinking about attending these events however Lynsey said it was “the safest concert I’ve been to” adding, that the Unity Arena had large number of hand sanitising stations available to use and that the toilets were cleaned after every use.

As we move into the colder months outdoor venues like Virgin’s Unity Arena won’t be as practical as it was in the summer months. Theatres and clubs are instead hosting events on a much smaller scale. The London Palladium re-opened under tight COVID restrictions however they faced critism over images showing the busy theatre. Rebecca Kane, CEO of LW Theatres wrote in a tweet:           

“ We spent 10s of £000’s of pounds re-configuring the stalls to achieve 1m distance front to back & between bubbles”

Indoor concerts and events are going to be greatly different from now on. Venues have started to reconfigure their seating arrangements; allowing set number of parties to sit one metre distanced apart. Audience bubbles will need to be a maximum of six people from a single household or support bubble therefore restricting friends going out socially. Face masks are expected to be worn for the full time within the venue, unless eating or drinking, contactless ticket systems and staggered entry and exit times. The precautions within these events and with the move to indoors during the winter months the overall experience and atmosphere we are all used to might be interfered with.

Drive-In events are starts to become more prominent within these events. This style of event allows you to suitably socially distance whilst being comfortable and not having to worry as much about COVID safety. Glasgow has been host to many drive in events in the past few months ranging from cinema showings, bingo and comedy shows. These have grown popular as they are easily assessible with food and drink vendors available making it the perfect night out.