Good Business Festival joins COVID pilot

Four events are to be held in Liverpool as part of the Government’s science-led COVID-19 pilot programme to help the UK open up again. Tony McDonough reports

ACC Liverpool
ACC Liverpool will host two of the pilot events. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool City region’s Good Business Festival is to take part in the science-led COVID-19 pilot programme that will help the UK open up by the summer.

The Government has chosen Liverpool to be a key hub for the pilot. The city will stage four events – a nightclub event, a comedy club, a live outdoor cinema event and an extra event as part of the Good Business Festival, which was launched with Act 1 in October 2020.

Buisness people will gather for the event – Change Business for Good – at the waterfront ACC Liverpool venue. This will offer invaluable data ahead of Act 2 of the festival scheduled to take place over three days in July.

Commissioned by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, and curated by Culture Liverpool and Hemingway Design, the Good Business Festival aims to unite the growing global community of businesses and conscious consumers who believe business can deliver meaningful, positive change in society.

Act 1 in October offered a hybrid programme of virtual and live content. Festival organisers say more details of the extra April event will follow shortly.

They added: “Ahead of our main three-day event in July, The Good Business Festival will pop up for one day in April. We are excited to be part of this and to kick start change for good as the UK transitions out of lockdown. 

The Government has announced details of the pilot events to be held in Liverpool, as the city follows in the footsteps of Amsterdam and Barcelona by participating in a science-led research programme to reopen the cultural and business sectors.

The Events Research Programme (ERP) will be used to provide key scientific data into how events for a range of audiences could be permitted to safely reopen as part of Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown, commencing no earlier than June 21.

It will be crucial to how venues – from major sport stadiums to comedy clubs, theatres to live music spaces, wedding venues to conference centres – could operate this summer.

The pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation, including the use of lateral flow tests – but there will be no use of so-called ‘vaccine passports’.

The Government is working closely with the University of Liverpool and Culture Liverpool on the project, which follows on from the city’s successful pilot COVID-19 testing programme for people without symptoms held last November.

The events are:

  • Hot Water Comedy Club at M&S Bank Arena Auditorium.
  • The Luna Cinema on the Waterfront (three shows).
  • The Good Business Festival Presents: Change Business for Good at ACC Liverpool.
  • Circus Club at Bramley Moore.

The programme is being overseen by the Government’s ERP Science Board with inputs from the University of Liverpool who are leading independent evaluation of the public health measures to secure the Liverpool events.

The aims are to:

  • Develop and pilot the logistics of event ticketing and testing, venue admittance and post-event follow-up.
  • Assess the adequacy of data collected around events and venues for responding to potential outbreaks, and for adapting protection measures according to the background levels and patterns of spread of the virus.
  • Measure the uptake of tickets and explore attitudes to, and acceptability of the overall ticketing, questioning and testing regime.

Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice. The final decision over whether each event can take place will be made by local officials.

The evidence from the events will be shared across the event economy nationwide, so that venues can prepare to accommodate fuller audiences.

Liverpool’s director of culture, Claire McColgan, said: “Events are part of the DNA of Liverpool and a critical part of our culture and community. More than that, they represent more than half of our economy, so also play a major role in the success of the city.

“There is a huge amount of work that has gone int this within central Government and Liverpool City Council. 

“This is a great story for Liverpool which puts us on the same page as Amsterdam and Barcelona who opened up their events. It is a real test fro us. Liverpool is the hub. We are an events city and that is what we do really really well.”

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