Festival goers have started arriving at the Latitude festival in Southwold, Suffolk – one of the first major camping event in the UK to return since the pandemic began.
Headliners including Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club, with Griff, Mabel, Damon Albarn and Rick Astley also set to perform to an expected crowd of 40,000 people.
The four-day summer festival is a government test event with attendees either having show their double-jabbed status, or provide proof of a negative test before they are let in.
The smiling young people were spotted dragging suitcases and carrying sleeping bags as they made their way to the entrance.
A huge blue-and-white big top and a yellow-and-blue large tent has been erected, while stages, fences, outdoor toilets and vans are ready for their visitors.
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Festival goers look excited to be arriving at the event
The event will then take place as normal without any social distancing measures or mask wearing imposed.
Organiser Melvin Benn said the opening of the doors would be “an emotional moment”, adding that the testing regime would ensure the festival was safe.
40,000 people are due to attend
He said: “It provides that security and safety that everybody’s looking for."
A statement on Latitude's website reads: 'We have been working extremely hard to make sure that Latitude Festival can go ahead safely at full capacity.
"After much discussion with the Government, I can now officially announce that we will be going ahead and that we will be joining the 3rd phase of the Event Research Programme as a test event.
"After many months without live music and arts, we are ecstatic to return with a full capacity festival.
"Restarting festivals is crucially important to the wellbeing of everyone in society and we hope that Latitude will be the first of many festivals to take place this summer."
Festivalgoers arrive at the Latitude festival in Henham Park, Southwold
The Events Research Programme (ERP) was set up by the government and initially ran nine pilots to test the safety of allowing the return of crowds in April and May, including the FA Cup Final and the Brit Awards.
Ministers have been under pressure to publish the details of the pilots to help the battered events industry.
Scientists running the programme identified 28 cases at the time of the event and the following week, according to a new report.
Ten cases were recorded at indoor events including Circus nightclub, which hosted nearly 7,000 people over two nights.
People are carrying their camping equipment to the site
The World Snooker Championship saw six cases recorded from over 10,000 attendees over 17 days.
There were no cases at the BRIT Awards, which saw 3,500 people attend the event at London’s O2 Arena.
All three pilot events held at Wembley Stadium, which saw a total of almost 30,000 people attend the FA Cup Semi Final, Carabao Cup Final and FA Cup Final combined saw eight cases recorded.
The ERP’s outdoor festival pilot at Sefton Park, in which over 6,000 people attended saw two cases, with the Reunion 5k run at Kempton Park also recording just two cases from nearly 2,000 attendees.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said ahead of the July 19 freedom day: “Our innovative and science-led Events Research Programme is helping us to better understand how the risk of transmission at major events can be effectively mitigated.
“The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to Step 4 of the roadmap.”
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