Opinion with James Brown: Covid legislation decimating the events industry

Red alert for our events industry

James Brown, from Ramsgate, runs a small events production company and acts as a technical production manager and technician for several international events agencies.

Like all others in the events industry he has seen his opportunities for work dry up this year due to Covid restrictions:

March 1, 2020: Business was buzzing. A new premises was on the horizon; my first permanent part-time employee scheduled for April 1; two European cities had been confirmed for a product promotional tour with a third in discussion; 10 bookings for my Funktion One sound system in Thanet throughout summer and a triple booking of PA and DJ equipment for three separate May Bank Holiday promotions.

All was looking busy and prosperous for the year ahead. I was sure of a big step in progressing the business. Fast forward just 28 days, the bookings had gone, prospects dashed and growth severed; a tale that is sadly repeated all over the country.

As 2020 drags its heels to see in what will hopefully be a less restrictive new year, the shadow of Covid19 and the latest round of lockdown is still most prevalent in the events and entertainment sector. The restrictions imposed upon promoters and venues have rendered the concept of events, practically, null and void. Starting with a virus, fuelled by fear and determined by legislation; events have been blacklisted for 2020.

Huge loss of jobs

Recent surveys suggest up to 170,000 jobs in the events sector will be gone by the end of the year.

Campaigns such as #WeMakeEvents, have been actively highlighting the plight that is being faced by all of those who work in events, by way of performance demonstrations at Parliament Square (#SurvivalInTheSquare) and lighting venues in red to denote the crisis that is.

This has helped identify just how wide reaching these restrictions have been and continue to be. Venue owners, performers, musicians, DJs, bar staff and stewards are the first to mind when considering those out of pocket when an event is cancelled.

The knock-on effect to surrounding hospitality such as bars and hotels generally gets the second round of consideration. The back-line ‘out of sight’ staff force are, however, quite often completely unidentified. Content creators, lighting and sound designers who work in the shadows for months on end before large scale tours and concerts commence; technical production hire companies that rely on sometimes just a handful of regular reliable clients; set designers, set builders, site electricians, riggers, broadcasters, bloggers, advertising agents, security staff, make-up artists, drivers, cleaners, caterers, health and safety inspectors, the list is actually endless. Every service we use in our day to day life can be found in the event sector in some shape and form, just a bit more niche than those you might find in a telephone directory.

Freedom to congregate

These services all rely on the basis of freedom to congregate. So long as this freedom has been removed, so has the opportunity to earn a living. To legislate against singing and dancing and ‘loud’ music is akin to prohibiting an entire industry and decimating social norm. The opportunity, to satisfy the most basic human needs of interacting and sharing experiences in an event setting, has been lost for the entire nation. The wide-ranging discord of opinions of Covid restrictions is further exasperating the longer-term closure of the events industry. Perpetuated fear and Orwellian-esque legislation have destroyed public confidence and as a consequence, event-based businesses are closing for good.

The government set out their guidance on how to safely run events between lockdowns, but for most, the numbers simply didn’t add up. Aside from the draconian “no singing, no dancing” rules; analysing ‘costs vs revenue’ against such a rigid policy of socially distanced gatherings, it was easy to write off any venture as a non-starter. A venue that could hold 1000 in regular times, was looking at hosting a maximum of 200 people whilst actively managing them to ensure they aren’t singing or dancing; God forbid! With capacities slashed, staffing overheads hiked and the onset of risk assessment and method statement hysteria, this model for events simply did not work for most.

Curfews and distancing

Should Lockdown 2 end, as we all hope it will, in December, we will still face a further three months of no singing, no dancing, noise levels restricted to 85dB and curfews of 10pm being imposed upon us. The prospect of living this life of ‘red tape’ leaves me, and possibly you too, waning in hope of a return to what we know as a normal nightlife and cultural landscape.

What we will eventually return to, will be a far cry from what we have grown accustomed to. Event offerings will continue to diminish so long as the current restrictions are in play. And, a word of warning; as eager as you all are to book tickets for events that ‘might’ happen next year, make sure to read the terms and conditions for any ticket you seek to buy; opportunism is rife against this backdrop of Covid interruptions. At best, you will lose booking and admin fees; at worst, you will see no return.

Prior to this current lockdown, I was so pleased to see everyone who’s passionate about events and their business made the necessary moves to operate within the government guidelines and operational obligations of Track & Trace. Kudos to the smaller fish. Ramsgate’s Festival of Sound went ahead, smaller venues were open and performers were active; but now into another lockdown, is there actually any hope of regaining what we once had at the beginning of the year; true freedom?

Keep on dancing

Grey areas of guidelines have been blackened with legislation governing events and performances. We are simply not allowed to congregate. We, the people, are all in this together. We must never lose sight of this.

We are all still human, we all still need that social element in our lives. Having the opportunity to sit and gather with our ‘support bubble’ is immeasurably important right now and in the lead up to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Until the policy changes, I can only urge you, keep being creative, know the ‘rules’ inside and out, then get more creative and of course; keep on dancing, albeit, at home.


  1. The right of the public not to be infected by & potentially die at the hands of the people who choose to attends these things trump your right of freedom to congregate in large numbers. You shouldn’t be hosting events at 85 decibels or over-it results in long term hearing damage like tinnitus & hearing loss for everybody there. Turn it down to 70 decibels for their sake & those in the surrounding areas having to listen to your racket.

    • Steve doesn’t understand acoustic physics, nor tinnitus, nor putting on large events. Don’t be like Steve.

      • It is quite clear that high decibel exposure(especially for long periods) damages hearing-anybody who has been to a concert will recall the hearing loss/muffling suffered in the week or so after, it is a common occupational health issue for staff who are exposed regularly.

        Thankfully the government recognise that people’s health as in not spreading this virus is more important than whiny, greedy events promoters crying the blues that they cannot have people congregating in large numbers during a global pandemic & filling their bank accounts.

    • I agree with Steve- music shouldn’t be played that loud for more than a moment or two.
      And loud fireworks should be banned.

  2. I started putting on events in Thanet so that I had something that I wanted to go to on my doorstep. I wanted people to come and experience a London or Ibiza club without the price tag. I thought I missed going out, 2 years ago, (back when going out was still a thing) because I didn’t have enough money to get to London . I‘ve always booked events so that I have something to look forward to, work so that I have money to live for the weekend. Such a huge part of me feels missing that I can’t actually do anything or go anywhere. I feel like I’m being treated like The 14 Year old me that is dreaming of the day she can go to the pub and watch a band. The 14 year old me wasn’t any trouble at the pub, I just wanted to go out and see the band. The 43 year old me would like to be able to make a grown up choice to go out or not go out and not have to be sent to bed at 10 pm. We can make grown up choices, high risk people can choose not to go out, I don’t believe everything has to close and closing at 10 pm / 11 pm or 12 pm isn’t going to make any difference to the virus risk, just how much money a venue, a doorman, a taxi driver a waitress can make. I’ve worked in events and know how many jobs have been lost and how many families have been affected but it’s also affected me as a customer. I can’t do what I enjoy doing, I can’t be me right now. Beautifully written James, really well said.

    • Agree Natasha, many detailed reports highlighting lockdowns are more destructive than the virus itself with severe damage to businesses, mental health and people’s right to actually go out and enjoy themselves. Demoralisation is a propaganda tool for sure. And yes, well said James.

    • Indeed Sally. The physical presence of ‘bass’ frequencies is overlooked so often. A lot of people are sadly uninspired and look down at ‘loud’ music. Sensory experience is vital to a healthy life. Loud music does not equate to hearing damage. Poorly engineered systems will damage hearing. A good quality sound source with professional processing and amplification through to high quality transducers produce a well balanced spectrum of frequencies that at higher SPLs are fine for all to enjoy. A lay-man’s look at HSE’s guide to safe working audio levels versus degree depth understanding of audio will always come out with opinions at odds with one another. Best wishes

      • You are so ignorant! “Sadly uninspired”…., “look down on loud music”…
        Who exactly are you talking about?

  3. We are in the middle, or possibly just the beginning, of a lethal pandemic.
    The disease spreads by close contact between people. To stop the spread, people have to stop meeting, mingling and mixing.
    We could adopt the policy of some people: just let it rip. If we did this, then (according to the editor of the “Lancet” – and what does he know) upwards of 400,000 would die, and many millions would be severely ill, some for months with “long covid”. The NHS would collapse.
    On the other hand, we could bite the bullet, tighten our belts (or to use modern terminology “suck it up, snowflakes”) and have a short and proper lockdown. We know it works – it did for L1.
    Many people in all works of life have had their lives and livelihoods disrupted, not least the family, friends and relatives of the 45,000 and more of those who have already died from C19.
    My heart does not grieve especially for you. My life was turned upside down in March after a year’s worth of events disappeared from my calendar in the space of a few days. I imagine the same is true for many others, with cancelled holidays, weddings, inability to attend funerals and so on.
    CV is with us. By having rigid lockdown, and adhering rigorously to lockdown, there’s just a chance that we will at the very least get C19 infections down to a manageable level.
    And I agree 100% with Steve: anything that stops loud “music” polluting the neighbourhood can’t be all bad.

    • Well said Andrew. Unfortunately there are too many selfish people who want their lives to go back to normal and are prepared to just let the vulnerable die. Too many people in this country have zero empathy and compassion and only care for their wallet and themselves.

      The same idiots who complain about the restrictions are the ones spreading it and making a bad situation worse. Wearing a mask and limiting social interaction is a necessity to halt this awful illness.

      The hospitality industry unfortunately helps spread the COVID virus. No matter how prepared the industry may be, the second you add alcohol to the mix people change and all the restrictions and regulations mean nothing to them.

      Pretty much every European Country is also in some form of lockdown, some harsher than ours, people also forget that during the first lockdown our government offered one of the most generous handouts to individuals and businesses.

      This pandemic began by showing the nicer side of human nature but now it is also starting to show the worst, the selfishness, the greed and lack of compassion for the most vulnerable in society.

      China has pretty much eradicated COVID with the main reasons being people complying with the rules and a lot more severe lockdown. Until people in the UK start adhering to the rules and respecting lockdowns we will have to live with the deaths the lockdowns and the shutdown of the hospitality industry for a lot longer.

      • Out government let the most vulnerable down and continues to do so even now. 18 million people were allowed through our borders whilst the public were locked down in March through May. No empathy should lie with their handling and blatant lies of numbers. The truth has already been revealed. This virus has a 1% mortality rate and affects almost only those with underlying health problems.

        • Well, the current government has always let the most vulnerable down.

          Who were the 18 million they allowed into the country during lockdown? Can you give an impartial reference for this? Thanks.

        • A 1% mortality rate equates to 660,000 deaths in the UK, plus untold numbers of people seriously incapacitated because of long covid.
          According to the Telegraph, during lockdown around 95,000 flew ino the UK.

          • Sorry – I stated that very poorly. 18 million were allowed to enter the UK prior to lockdown. This virus had been announced way before March 23rd. WHO had advised countries to close borders. We didn’t. We actually haven’t whatsoever. Had that 18 million been subject to real quarantine – i.e. swept into a holding area for 2 weeks, we would not be facing this current situation. According to ONS data, during the lockdown, over 637,600 people came in via commercial airlines (23rd Mar – 4th July 2020) [ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statistics-relating-to-passenger-arrivals-since-the-covid-19-outbreak-august-2020/statistics-relating-to-passenger-arrivals-since-the-covid-19-outbreak-august-2020 ]
            1% mortality rate against those tested positive for infection. Not the entire country. The latest figures look very daunting. I would love to see all positive case figures set against number of tests taken to see what percentage are actually coming back as positive. A single figure means nothing without a datum or secondary reference point. The further detail – are these figures from PCR tests (showing that the virus is active in the subject) or and Antigen test (subject has had exposure to a virus recently) [ https://www.imperial.nhs.uk/about-us/coronavirus-innovations/coronavirus-testing-explained ]
            The ultimate caveat – these figures are representing people who have died who in the past 28 days had a positive Coronavirus diagnosis.
            Legal causation makes this seemingly black and white figure quite grey when you look deeper into the data being presented. People who were terminally ill, but also tested positive for something (was it an antigen test or a PCR test?) have been written off as dying from Coronavirus. Fear is the bigger threat here. Not Coronavirus. Again, just my opinion 🙂

  4. The more I think about this Opinion Piece, the more appalling it seems.
    According to the IoTN, up to a few days ago 119 people had died of C19 in Thanet. That’s 119 households where there is an empty place at the table, a cold patch on one side of the double bed, plenty of room now on the sofa; workplaces with an empty desk and a mug hanging up in the tea room that will never be used again; the darts team, choir, 5-a-side that’s now a 4-a-side.
    And many of the people all too painfully aware of these gaps will be reading an Opinion Piece in IoTN where James Brown is lamenting the fact that for a few months he won’t be able to play loud music.
    Just remember, the empty chair won’t be filled by its recent occupant, the coffee mug will stay unused – for ever.

    • Andrew, if all you got from the opinion piece is ‘lamenting about loud music’ you might consider reading the rest of the article more closely. Yes people have died, it is tragic. The handling and safety measures our elected government have put in place have been shambolic at best – starting years ago by ignoring Operation Cygnus and relying on legislation to allow the erosion of every right and duty of care you and I are owed. Read the Coronavirus Act in its entirety, please. See what the Law Lords of this country have to say. Look at the figures for seasonal flu right now… All hidden by Covid… This second lockdown is uncalled for. If you don’t like my opinion, please stop picking. Share your time with others who think the road we are on is the right one. I simply don’t. For that, I can’t apologise

      • I don’t like your opinion. You are complaining because you are being prevented from doing something which compared to being in the middle of a pandemic is simply trivial. If people want to dance to loud music they can do so at home with earphones on.

      • If you choose to publicly air your rather narrow, thoughtless and insensitive opinion, then it’s not unreasonable to expect people who have opinions that differ from yours to make them equally public.
        Expressions involving words such as “heat” and “kitchen” spring to mind.

        • I am all ears to critique. I was trying to voice my lament for an entire industry that is not being accounted for. Musicians, singers, dancers, performers of every kind and the back of house staff that get no recognition and told to retrain. That’s pretty sick in my opinion. I have not gone out and flaunted the lockdown by hosting illegal gatherings. I have abstained from being that person you few are trying so hard to portray. That isn’t me, honest. Wish you all the best

      • Totally agree with you James. And look at many reports on the dangers of false positives of testing. The creator of the PCR tests said they shouldn’t be used for covid! Many millions are waking up now to some of the false reporting and dodgy data, and these include highly qualified medial experts and those in the law. Some are too uncomfortable to have their very fixed views challenged. The hypnosis and fear agenda put out by the officials has also been enormous. Any working in that field can see. Your piece is a breath of fresh air. Many think similar.

  5. James, you sound like a truly terrible person. Like many other covidiots you don’t give a toss about the vulnerable and only care for yourself.

    I’ve heard so many covidiots with your mindset saying that the vulnerable will die anyway so keep everything open and just let them die, it’s survival of the fittest. What a callous evil wicked thing to say. People with this opinion are oxygen thieves and I feel so so sorry for their children, no wonder there is so much violence and hatred in this world when selfishness is so abundant. Stupidity breeds stupidity so please don’t have anymore kids.

    It’s not just the elderly who are at risk it’s also cancer patients, people with low immunity and people recovering from operations of all ages. Without a lockdown the whole of the NHS would grind to a halt.

    You are obviously a conspiracy theory nut and no doubt believe the world is flat, that’s your choice but please stop spouting unsubstantiated rubbish. Perhaps you should stop getting your news from Facebook and YouTube.

    Grow a heart and learn some empathy, you would be much better for it.

    Editor note: Part of this comment has been deleted

    • The legislation that is, is comparable to tyranny. I did not write the laws that govern. I did not under-serve my country leaving the most vulnerable to perish to this virus. I am lamenting that our government have no actual interest in the health of this nation – physically, mentally nor spiritually.

      And as for the NHS, it would have faired a lot better had the Tories not continued to exercise cut back after cut back year on year for the past decade.

      And as for empathy, you don’t learn empathy, you acquire it through hard life lessons and reflection. I empathise for all of those forgotten and left out to dry by this horrid establishment. Thank you

      Ed’s Note: Part of this comment has been edited

      • James, yes you can learn empathy, look it up it’s out there if your prepared to look it up.

        Tens of thousands of people have already died in this country due to COVID, hundreds of thousands have died throughout Europe because of it. If the first lockdown hadn’t have happened the figures would have been much much higher and without this current lockdown the figures would be higher still.

        You personally might be prepared to see thousands more die so you can go out and get pissed at the weekend but the vast majority of civilised people do actually care about the vulnerable and the weak and have a conscience.

        According to you we live in tyranny, strange then that people such as yourself are still around spouting non truths and spreading dissent. Contrary to what some bloke on YouTube tells you, you do still live in a free country. Perhaps when things have calmed down and you can take your foreign holiday your obviously entitled to, perhaps you can try visiting some of the very many countries where tyranny really does exist. Only in a free country do people have a sense of self entitlement that takes precedence over the lives of others.

        • Hi Concerned,
          I am slightly opposed to disagree with the learning of empathy. Sympathy yes. Empathy less so. You really do have to walk in the shoes of those of whom you wish to empathise. Experience trumps learning in that sense in my eyes.

          Yes 10s of 1,000s have died in this country who have reported to have been infected with Covid within the 28 days leading to their passing. This is awful. I have never stated the first lockdown was not needed. It was needed sooner. A better response was needed initially. A faster response was needed. Taking control of the situation was needed. I am at a loss as to what I have written from which you have extrapolated my inference that I am prepared to see 1,000s more die. I am not that person you may think I am.
          My nan has care visits several times daily has had these visits all through lock down. Visits from staff underprepared – NO PPE for weeks into lockdown. Those masks we all don may help, but to not negate the risk of infection. The 4x point PPE spec-ed by the NHS for their staff DO. What we are wearing and the carers are wearing – DO NOT. Do I blame them… no. I do blame the country’s government for not following up the emergency plan for this scenario as outlined in operation Cygnus (page 33 – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/07/what-was-exercise-cygnus-and-what-did-it-find – Distribution of PPE across NHS and healthcare settings) – It took WEEKs for any wide spread distribution of PPE across the UK, in every setting including care homes. I do have a conscience. I was at my wits end – thankfully, my nan is still with us at 84. I am quite civilised, although you imply I am not from your ‘get pissed at the weekend’ jibe.

          We live in a free-ish country. The legislation and the way it was introduced is akin to tyrannical rule. I have a few weeks in China on a job and a few friends have settled there in teaching roles. It is very different, I did notice.

          I will call on just one explicit tyrannical piece of legislative power evoked from Covid… please look to:

          Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 – with 2020 Covid amendments…
          Paragraph 45I
          Power to order health measures in relation to premises

          (1)A justice of the peace may make an order under subsection (2) in relation to premises if the justice is satisfied that—

          (a)the premises are or may be infected or contaminated,

          (b)the infection or contamination is one which presents or could present significant harm to human health,

          (c)there is a risk that the premises might infect or contaminate humans, and

          (d)it is necessary to make the order in order to remove or reduce that risk.

          (2)The order may impose in relation to the premises one or more of the following restrictions or requirements—

          (a)that the premises be closed;

          (b)that, in the case of a conveyance or movable structure, the conveyance or structure be detained;

          (c)that the premises be disinfected or decontaminated;

          (d)that, in the case of a building, conveyance or structure, the premises be destroyed.

          What scientific basis was Section 2 Subsection D founded?

          This is not ‘non-truth’ this is law. Local authorities now have the power, in legislation vested by ministers, written under a government by decree, to demolish structures that have ‘housed’ Coronavirus. For what intent would such legislation be written? Do you too believe that a premises can ‘house’ a virus to such a lethal degree that demolition is the best remedial action to take?

          And from what do you believe makes me self entitled? We are all equal; supposedly. Those who write the rules are certainly more equal than I.

          Oh, and I did take my foreign holiday in the summer, thank you. I returned with my paperwork only for it to not be collected by the stewards at Stansted airport. Paper forms are not being collected or administered. Ask ANY establishment that had the 3 month reprieve of actually opening during summer. There is no forwarding address for those forms. There is no guidance on managing it. It just raises more questions non?

    • Please do watch this. More decorated than anyone in the field of law. I would only do his summary disjustice. It is a long watch, but well worth a cup of tea with this on in the background to really understand the way in which the government has undermined the rule of law to enact overbearing powers entrusted in ministers who maybe should not wield such powers…


      I trust the judiciary a whole lot more than I do any member of Parliament. Judges earn their rights of power over their lifetime of dedication to justice, so they get my vote of respect

  6. I think it’s important to repeat that many medical experts world wide do not agree with the data and approach re: the virus, and give detailed reports that lockdowns will kill more than the virus. Even the main stream press over here pointed to the inaccuracies in the data presented by the government to justify the latest lockdown. Many whistleblowers from hospitals and care homes as well. Legal cases will roll out with detailed evidence. There has been much propaganda and fear hypnosis used on the public, and the Insight Team – Behavioural Unit are there in the background if you research that. I feel very sorry with anyone with their own business just now as they have been totally let down, and many will never survive. The fear of the virus through the propaganda and fear messages is far once than the virus itself. Look at the ONS death stats. See the info. from the Time for Recovery Group (with Lord Sumpton), Great Barrington Declaration, UK mental health experts and those like Dr Mike Yeadon (a comtemporary of and more qualified than Whitty and Vallance). Know that millions do not agree with the official narrative and fear agenda, and will one day be free again. And I have seen a number of deaths personally over the years, so am not immune to this all. And the present situation actually is tyranny with the lockdowning down of the public (that’s a prison term), shutting down of businesses, destruction of our youths education, withdrawal of many medical treatments, illegal treatment of protestors etc .Many in the legal profession echo this as well. Freedom will come one day, and accountability and that will be uncomfortable for some.

  7. We’re all still pretty free and there are excellent scientific reasons for the limitations put on our behaviour currently. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t agree with “the official narrative and fear agenda”.

    • Oh yes it does. What a strange thing to say. That’s why so many protested in Manchester this week. Businesses are being destroyed, there is a mental health crisis and a marked increase in suicides, medical issues not being addressed and the erosion of civil liberties is chilling. Quite a few articles in the Daily Mail and Telegraph now questioning it all. And that’s conventional main stream media. 40 German doctors wrote to Merkl this week demanding she put an end to the covid fear machine. Professor Cahill in Ireland said ‘we have never in the history of infectious diseases quarantined healthy people. There is no need for lockdown.’ Dr Mike Yeadon – a contemporary of Vallence and Whitty and more experienced -said lockdown should be removed immediately and there is no second wave. The official narrative has been blown to pieces by multiple sources.

  8. What Democrat calls “the erosion of civil liberties” is a temporary necessity. It’s been obvious for months that the government is only too keen to lift them- too slow in enacting them, too quick to lift them.

  9. What our government is doing is broadly similar to what works governments of every political colour are doing: taking mire or less draconian steps to limit the spread of coronavirus.
    Some countries which were very prompt in applying rigorous lockdown are now just about CV free, and business is more or less back to normal.
    One such is New Zealand (a Western style democracy), another is South Korea (a republic)
    So, whatever laws our government are passing in respect onto CV, most world governments are doing the same.

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