• Luke McColl

Is indoor live music allowed only in dedicated music venues and theaters?

Following the previous vague and confusing announcement that live music would be returning to indoor venues. The update to the performing arts guidelines has specifically named bars and restaurants as venues in which live music can take place.


The Gov.uk performing arts guidelines were updated and BBC news announced on Thursday 13th August that indoor live music was set to return this weekend. Live indoor music can go ahead from Saturday the 15th August with bars and restaurants following guidelines for social distancing and managing audiences.


For thousands of self employed musicians and performers this is amazing news. Months of little or no income, uncertainty and watching other sectors return to a new normal has been difficult.


Grey areas in the definition of a music venue in the previous guidelines, setbacks with local lock-downs in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, feelings of one step forward and fifty steps back, have had a devastating effect on an industry that is preparing to recover and figure out how to get back to work safely.

As of Saturday 15th August we are now at Stage Four of the road-map. This means that socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances can take place in line with the government guidance.


The guidelines advise a number of steps to manage social distancing and to reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level.

  • 2 metres, wherever possible, or 1 metre distance

  • Consider the maximum number of people who can be safely accommodated

  • Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, including disinfection of high footfall areas or common touch points with particular attention to toilets/restrooms

  • Managing occupancy levels and limit movement

  • Discouraging audience behaviours that increase transmission risk, for example crowding, shouting or physical contact with others outside of household groups or support bubbles.

See the link below for the full list of guidelines.

Outdoor gigs

Venues with outdoor space, a beer garden and understanding neighbours have had outdoor gigs take place. For venues without cover, some gigs have been weather dependent.


Blind Tiger - Rawtenstall

The Definitely Maybe bar - Bolton

The Vestry - Tarleton

Farnworth Cricket Club - Bolton

Local Lock-downs - What you can and can't do

As of 14/08/20 2pm (time of writing)

Areas of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire are in a local lock-down. The only entertainment allowed for bars and restaurants is outside gigs.


See the link below for the full list of guidelines.

Affected local areas

  • Greater Manchester:

  • City of Manchester

  • Trafford

  • Stockport

  • Oldham

  • Bury

  • Wigan

  • Bolton

  • Tameside

  • Rochdale

  • Salford


  • Lancashire:

  • Blackburn with Darwen

  • Burnley

  • Hyndburn

  • Pendle

  • Preston

  • Rossendale


  • West Yorkshire:

  • Bradford

  • Calderdale

  • Kirklees


GOV.UK - Local Lockdown link - 3.12

What you can and can't do

Is a bar or restaurant allowed to have indoor live music performances starting on the 15th August? YES

The paragraph below is from the Gov.uk website and explains types of venues that the guidelines apply to. The full guidelines can be found on the link below.


This guidance is likely to be relevant and should be considered in a wide range of circumstances including but not limited to: music production, film, advertising, television production, places of worship, outdoor events and festivals, indoor unseated music venues, bars and restaurants.

GOV.UK website with full guidance here.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts

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