Belsonic has defended the decision for concert-goers to show proof of their Covid status for gigs in Belfast later this year.
The Belsonic events at Ormeau Park and also CHSQ at Custom House Square, will both require ticket holders to show proof of having had either, both doses of the vaccine, proof of a negative Covid test 48 hours before arrival or proof of natural antibodies.
Belfast Live spoke to Belsonic’s Joe Dougan who set out why these entry requirements have been put in place.
He said it’s been a long 17 months of not having these events but that “it’s going to be great”.
Joe explained: “Because these shows are all fully outdoor it’s something that I guess governments are generally in favour of and I think they are a lot safer than indoor settings as well.
“The experience itself won’t be terribly different compared with previous years, really just the only difference compared with say 2019 is the introduction of this additional criteria for entry that we’ve introduced today.
“What we’ve introduced is what we call Covid certification. It’s three separate ways in which you can prove on entry to the events from a Covid point of view that you’re safe.
“The first is that you are double vaccinated and that’s something you can prove using your vaccination card, or there are various ways to do that – it’s all listed on our website.
“The second is that you’ve got natural immunity to Covid because you’ve had it in the last six months, so that’s basically a positive PCR test that shows that you’ve had it and isolated after the period you had it.
“And the third is a lateral flow test which is a really simple, free test that you can do that gets posted out to your house by the government.”
Joe said this criteria has been introduced to keep the audience, artists and workers at the concerts safe and to ensure it keeps the industry sustainable.
He added: “But more than anything else, it’s probably to safeguard the industry that we work in too, as everybody will be aware it’s been a very long time since live music promoters like ourselves have been able to trade and do what we do.
“We want to not only be able to do these events this summer but we want to be able to do events rolling into the winter, next year and certainly next summer as well.
“It’s about increasing customer confidence as much as anything else because if you are one of the people concerned from a Covid point of view about attending a concert, this gives you a little bit more peace of mind.”
In response to the reaction that Monday’s announcement received, Joe added people are mistakenly thinking Belsonic is asking for proof of vaccination for entry only – and the public would not be permitted entry without it.
Joe insisted: “That’s not the case, you do not need to be vaccinated to get into one of these shows,” as you can also show a negative lateral flow test or proof of having coronavirus in the last six months.
He added: “That is not something we ever would have considered introducing as it excludes a lot of people.”
For those nervous about getting back into crowds, Belsonic said it will have additional mitigations in place such as hygiene measures and temperature checks to help keep it safe.
Joe said: “People can be assured that if they are attending one of these concerts, that every single person that is on that site, because we will be making sure that the workers do this as well, that they will have either been tested for Covid or that they can demonstrate full vaccination as well.”
The music industry worker added he’s glad “everything is moving in the right direction” following the Executive announcement about the return of live music at indoor venues.
He revealed the demand for live music is the highest it has ever been, a sign that everyone is “raring to go” which has been reflected in ticket sales.
Outdoor concerts upcoming in Belfast include Liam Gallagher, Gerry Cinnamon, Tom Jones, MK and Kodaline.