Boris Johnson unveils the UK’s reopening roadmap | NYC’s reduced capacity means higher ticket prices | Events in Russia are already operating at 100% capacity

The UK’s reopening roadmap - no take backs…

On Monday, PM Boris Johnson announced the 4 step plan intended to ease the UK out of lockdown. Conflicting statements have us all feeling a little confused as to whether the reopening will be “irreversible” or not but if we’re going with our gut, the UK is not out of the woods and we’ll be watching things very closely as the plan unfolds. You can see the detailed plan here (or here or here), but the basic idea is that each step will have a minimum ( ⬅️ key word) 5 week evaluation period where 4 things will need to occur before being deemed acceptable to proceed to the next step.

  1. The % of the population being vaccinated remains on schedule
  2. Hospitalizations and infections are sufficiently tempered by the vaccine
  3. Infection rates remain low
  4. A detailed risk assessment of the potential of new variants must be conducted
UK newspaper

The goal is to use data over deadlines to ease restrictions gradually with the intention of getting back to total freedom (i.e. full capacity events and reopening nightclubs) by June 21. This, of course, is a best case scenario.

The industry response has been mixed. While people are glad of finally having a bit of clarity with some concrete expectations, there is confusion about planning and preparation for new health and safety requirements that are still TBD. The lack of notice on whether new steps will be implemented on time or pushed back at the last minute doesn’t provide professionals with confidence to begin planning without government backed insurance to cover costs if events must be canceled one again. Furthermore, the industry still needs support. Businesses cannot hire back staff without the means to pay them and they can’t sell tickets to events that don’t exist yet. Overall, no one was shocked to hear events would be the last to return despite mounting evidence that with the right mitigation measures in place, live events present relatively low risk when it comes to the spread of the virus.

Reduced capacity events means sky high ticket prices at MSG and Barclays

Last week we told you that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that fans would be allowed to return to sporting events in NYC. This week we’re finding out that the limited number of seats available means soaring ticket prices. While we shouldn’t have been surprised, it is the basic rule of supply and demand afterall, courtside seats are running upwards of $5000 a pop on the secondary market, which is 5x the usual going rate. On average, purchasing a ticket through StubHub or Vivid Seats will run buyers 45-60% more per ticket than going directly to the source. Despite efforts by the venue to keep the ticket costs at pre-COVID levels, the fans lucky enough to snag tickets are reselling them with significant markups. This raises the question of how to bring back live without breaking your customer’s banks when you have no control over the final cost, all on top of the fact that you can only sell a fraction of normal capacity.

The arenas have been approved for 10% capacity but the Barclays Center has elected to offer more exclusive experiences at a higher price tag. This approach has avoided the secondary market altogether. What’s included?

  • Living room style setups complete with couches instead of hard plastic stadium seats
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages with no need to wait in line, it’s brought to you
  • A COVID test delivered to your home with time to get the results before tipoff
Barclays Center

The good news in all of this? It’s a positive sign that people are ready and willing to support the live events industry, whatever the cost. Though, fans are likely going to have to make some tough choices in the future. In a Reviving Live Roundtable back on February 9, Rob Light, the Managing Partner & Head of Worldwide Music for Creative Artist Agency, expressed an unlikely dream of implementing a National Day of Ticket Sales. The idea of a single day where all tickets, for all shows go on sale at once, at the same price. It’s an interesting idea and we think it has merit!

Full capacity events have returned to Russia (in select locations)

Full-capacity concerts have already returned to 2 regions in Russia. Kemerovo and Novosibirsk, located in Siberia, have removed all restrictions and are ready to welcome back live in all it’s former glory. Several other regions in the country, including St. Petersburg, Moscow and Leningrad, are sitting at 75% capacity, with still others limited to 30%. Thanks to a new database, the live events industry has access to updated information on restrictions and other guidelines applicable in their respective regions.

Concert

According to recent reports, COVID numbers in the country are on the decline and a third vaccine is nearly ready for distribution which leads us to believe more and more regions will begin to return to normal very soon. It may still be quite chilly in Siberia, but at least the Russkis have access to some live entertainment to get them through this last bit of Winter!