UK’s First Socially Distanced Concert Provides a Look Into the Immediate Future of Live Music

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the live music scene due to the cancellation of major tours and global festivals, innovation and adaptation are rapidly taking place in an effort to save the industry. 

The UK's new pop-up venue, Virgin Money Unity Arena, is leading the charge toward building back to normal, recently hosting the nation's first socially distanced concerts featuring English indie rock artist Sam Fender.

The venue has implemented policies every step of the way to ensure crowds remain segmented throughout the experience. Cars were parked two meters apart and each party was guided separately to their seating area. The grounds were populated with 500 raised metal platforms, which hosted groups of up to five individuals. Mask wearing was enforced for those leaving their section of the venue, although attendees in general were discouraged from mingling with other groups at the venue.

"I think it’s fantastic that our region is going to lead the way on this, and you know we’ll be the trailblazers for something that will hopefully continue on through the rest of the pandemic," Fender said in a statement to the BBC. Fender sold out two back-to-back shows at the Virgin Money Unity Arena, which is scheduled to also host performances by Van Morrison, Two Door Cinema Club, and many more in the coming months.

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