UK insurance scheme for live events gets partial welcome
LONDON (AP) — Organizers of live events in the U.K., such as festivals and theaters, gave their partial support Friday to a new coronavirus-related insurance initiative aimed at easing their financial worries.
In a statement late Thursday, the government said it was backing a 750 million-pound ($1 billion) insurance scheme that will cover the cancellation costs incurred by the hard-hit live events sector in the event of further lockdowns in the year from September.
The government is partnering with Lloyd’s, the London-based insurance market, to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, that will see it step in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need.
“Our events industries are not just vital for the economy and jobs; they put Britain on the map and, thanks to this extra support, will get people back to the experiences that make life worth living,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said.
Industry leaders said the initiative would help theatres and festivals to plan events more confidently but said it did not go far enough. They noted that the scheme will only apply during lockdowns, meaning that costs related to the reintroduction of other restrictions that could threaten the financial viability of their events would not be covered.
“The scheme doesn’t, however, cover a festival needing to reduce capacity or cancel due to social distancing restrictions being reintroduced,” said Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals.
The recent lifting of coronavirus restrictions across the U.K. over recent months has raised hopes that the sector will be able to get back on a surer footing, but the spread of the more contagious delta variant has stoked fears that curbs may have to return during winter.
According to the Treasury, the live events sector is worth more than 70 billion pounds ($97.39 billion) annually and supports more than 700,000 jobs.
The sector has suffered hugely since lockdown restrictions were first introduced in the country in March 2020 and the lack of a government-backed insurance scheme prevented many from pushing ahead with their plans this year.
“Though it is a shame that it has come too late for some this summer, this scheme will provide the confidence the sector needs to plan and invest in future events,” said Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters Association.