By Joe Gammie, PA
Thousands of revellers without face coverings danced shoulder to shoulder to live music for the first time in more than a year at a pilot music festival in England.
Around 5,000 people packed into Sefton Park in Liverpool on Sunday for the outdoor gig which included performances from Blossoms, The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu.
Pictures and videos showed people packed together, arms in the air, dancing to the music at the event which has been hailed as a milestone towards getting live events running again.
Everyone had to produce negative coronavirus tests to enter the event but did not have to wear face coverings or follow social distancing rules.
It is hoped that test events like this will pave the way for festivals and venues across the UK to reopen for mass gatherings again.
After the event, headliners Blossoms tweeted: “That was unreal, we’re buzzin.”
That was unreal, we’re buzzin ❤️
— B L O S S O M S (@BlossomsBand) May 2, 2021
Speaking to Liverpool City Council after the gig Zuzu said: “Indescribable, it was actually unreal.
“The energy was just unbelievable, it really was.
— Liverpool City Council (@lpoolcouncil) May 2, 2021
“I got emotional and I cried on the way out. Fully next level amazing.”
The Lathums simply tweeted: “We’ll cherish this moment forever.
“Thank you Liverpool x”
We’ll cherish this moment forever.
Thank you Liverpool x pic.twitter.com/SPjV0fcuHo
— THE LATHUMS (@TheLathums) May 2, 2021
Festival Republic, which hosted the event, said that it was “incredible” to see the lucky 5,000 ticket holders arrive at the venue after showing their negative Covid test results.
It added: “It’s been incredible to see the lucky five thousand ticket holders arrive into Sefton Park after displaying their negative Covid-19 test result. Tonight is going to be special.”
The gates are OPEN🙌 It's been incredible to see the lucky five thousand ticket holders arrive into Sefton Park after displaying their negative Covid-19 test result🙏 Tonight is going to be special✨ pic.twitter.com/cM8MBNH6Ll
— Festival Republic (@FRfestivals) May 2, 2021
England's culture minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Today is a momentous occasion to celebrate as fans get their first taste of a music festival for more than a year – and all in the name of science.”
Tickets were only available to those living in the Liverpool City region aged 18 or above when they went on sale.
Ticket holders were required to take a rapid lateral flow test before entry, and will also be asked to take a test after the event to gather further evidence on the safety of outdoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical mitigations like face coverings.
They will also have to provide contact details to the health service to ensure everyone can be traced in the event of a positive test.
Researchers at the event will examine the movements and behaviour of the crowd.
The UK government is looking at a range of settings and events including a business forum in Liverpool, club nights and the World Snooker Championship.
It will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation.
The events will provide evidence to inform decisions around the removal of social distancing in the UK.