Latitude: health meetings take place to ensure Covid safety

Suffolk's Latitude Festival is set to go ahead this summer

Latitude Festival will run at full capacity in 2021 as part of the Government's programme of test events - Credit: Megan Aldous

Organisers of next month's Latitude Festival are said to be "very, very, aware that if anything goes wrong" with Covid safety that it will "have a significant impact on the festival industry going forward".

The Suffolk event confirmed on Friday that it would run from July 22 to 25 with full attendance numbers - around 40,000 spectators.

It is part of the government's programme of test events during the roadmap out of lockdown.

Festivalgoers will need to show proof of either a negative lateral flow test result 48 hours before attending, or a second Covid-19 vaccination received 14 or more days before the event.

At Friday's Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting of council, health and police bosses, V Johnston from East Suffolk Council's environmental health team confirmed meetings were already underway on making the event go ahead safely.

She said: "At the moment, as far as we know with Latitude, and these discussions will be ongoing, it is part of the event research programme with 40,000 onsite.

The Latitude Festival at Henham Park. Picture: James Bass

Latitude Festival in pre-Covid times - Credit: James Bass

"The organisation is very aware they need the start crew well in order to be able to manage the event, and they can't afford to run an event and have half the staff go down so they can't run the event.

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"They are very, very, aware that if anything goes wrong that is going to have a significant impact on the festival industry going forward.

"We have already had multi-agency meetings as we would normally do, and in the run up to the event we will continue with those.

"At each stage of the event we have a multi-agency meeting where the public health team is also represented, looking at how it is going and able to make any changes as and when necessary."

Separate arrangements are in place for staff, artists and regulators, which will include a negative lateral flow test result that will determine whether a pass can be allocated.

Ms Johnston said she had attended the 10,000 capacity Download Festival in the East Midlands earlier this month to see measures in place there, which will also help inform how Latitude runs.

The team will also be working with organisers of other events through the year, including music festivals, horse racing events and motor racing among others.

Stuart Keeble is director of Suffolk Public Health

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble - Credit: Suffolk County Council

It was confirmed that despite being one of the largest test events being planned so far, the team has not currently had any direct input from Public Health England.

However, it is anticipated that will happen soon.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said: "We are building on the back of some of the other events, so we have got some good basis to work from.

"Each event will be treated differently, and we are going through the guidance, rules, and understanding that.

"That mainly focuses on the staff and then the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be working with SAGE [Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] on the wider criteria.

"I think if we have any concerns or question we would work with our Public Health England and national colleagues to work through it, but the early meetings we have had have been very open and honest, just talking through the plans. That will evolve over time."