LONDON — British music’s leading prize night next month will feature an audience of 4,000 people, in what will be the first major indoor music event in the country to welcome back a live audience since the coronavirus pandemic erupted more than a year ago.
The Brit Awards said Thursday that the May 11 event at London’s 02 Arena has been picked to be part of the government’s easing of coronavirus restrictions following a sharp drop in new cases in the U.K.
As part of the government’s live events pilot program, audience members attending the ceremony won’t have to socially distance or even wear face coverings once seated. Instead, they will need to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test result to enter the venue and be required to provide details to test and trace authorities as well as follow the guidance while travelling to and from the venue.
Organizers said they are giving away 2,500 tickets to essential workers from the Greater London area to mark their work through “the difficult times” of the pandemic.
“This has been a long tough year for everyone and I’m delighted the night will honour the key worker heroes who have cared for us so well during that time and continue to do so,” said singer/songwriter Dua Lipa, who is set to perform at the event. “They are quite simply an inspiration.”
Though the U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll of more than 127,000, restrictions are slowly being eased following a sharp fall in new infections in the wake of a stringent lockdown and the rapid rollout of vaccines.
As part of that easing of restrictions, which has already seen schools reopen and pubs allowed to serve food and drink in outdoor settings, the government is trialing ways to allow audiences back at indoor cultural events.
The Events Research Programme is looking at how venues can restart large events and welcome crowds back safely this summer, by which time the government hopes many of the curbs that have been in place since last March will have been ditched.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said this year’s awards will be particularly special as they will “reunite live audiences with the best of British talent for the first time in a year, while providing a vital opportunity to see how we can get large crowds back safely as soon as possible.”
In addition to Dua Lipa, organizers said Griff, Arlo Parks and Headie One are among the artists scheduled to perform during the ceremony, which will be hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall.
“Not only will we be celebrating the brilliant music and artists that have helped us through the pandemic, but we hope it will provide a path for the return of live music that fans and artists have so sorely missed,” said Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry and of the Brit Awards.
“We’re buzzing about the show and working closely with government,” he added.
The announcement comes after the Grammy Awards hosted a 2021 edition in Los Angeles, which saw nominees and performers, including Harry Styles and Beyonce, attend in person but without a live audience.
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Pan Pylas, The Associated Press