The Brit Awards will go ahead with a live audience next month, as part of the government’s research into how live events might work after the pandemic.
The ceremony will take place at London’s O2 Arena on 11 May and will be fronted by comedian Jack Whitehall.
The 4,000-strong audience won’t need to wear masks or be socially distanced, but will need a negative Covid test.
It’s the latest addition to the Events Research Programme, which examines how venues and events can reopen safely.
The scheme also includes a Liverpool nightclub that will host 3,000 people per night on 30 April and 1 May, and a 5,000-capacity gig in the city on 2 May.
It also includes sporting spectacles like the FA Cup final, which will have 21,000 spectators four days after the Brits, on 15 May.
How will the Brit Awards work?
Most tickets – 2,500 of the 4,000 – will be given to key workers from London “to thank them for their remarkable hard work and selfless commitment”. The capital’s key workers can apply for free tickets via the Brit Awards website from Thursday.
The other 1,500 places will go to the nominated artists, their managers and teams plus other members of the music industry and sponsors.
All audience members will be asked to present proof of a recent negative lateral flow test to enter the venue. Once inside, it will be as “normal” as possible, including serving food and alcohol.
Attendees will also be asked to take a test after the ceremony to help gather further evidence on the safety of indoor settings, reduced social distancing and the absence of face coverings.
Audience members will also have to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace so everyone can be traced in the event of an audience member receiving a positive test after the event.
Why will the audience be smaller?
The O2 has a capacity of roughly 20,000, but only 4,000 people will be at the Brits.
However, this is not because of social distancing, but is due to some sections of the arena being closed off for the event.
The ground floor will largely be used for staging, and will also be where the nominees and their guests sit during the ceremony.
As a result, the key workers and their guests will be on level one of the arena. The higher level will be largely closed off.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The Brits are always a big night in the music calendar, but this year’s awards will be particularly special.
“They will reunite live audiences with the best of British talent for the first time in a year, while providing a vital opportunity to see how we can get large crowds back safely as soon as possible.”
What reaction has there been?
The Music Venue Trust said it was “very happy” that the awards were going ahead but questioned how much value the event would be to grassroots music venues across the UK.
“It isn’t at all clear how anything learned from this event will directly help us to open the Hull Adelphi, 100 Club London… or any of the other 950 grassroots music venues across the country,” said CEO Mark Davyd.
He said there were “obvious concerns” about whether enough testing and pilot events were taking place “to give the grassroots music venue sector the data and evidence it needs to return to full capacity.”
Some Twitter users, meanwhile, queried why the Brits should be allowed to have 4,000 people in attendance when smaller gatherings like weddings and Parkruns remained subject to government restrictions.
Who are this year’s Brit nominees?
Dua Lipa, Headie One, Arlo Parks and Griff will be among the performers at the ceremony.
Parks and Lipa have three nominations each, as do dance producer Joel Corry and grime duo Young T & Bugsey.
“This has been a long tough year for everyone and I’m delighted the night will honour the key worker heroes who have cared for us so well during that time and continue to do so,” Lipa said in a statement.
“They are quite simply an inspiration. The Brit Awards are always special and this will truly make it a night to remember.”
The ceremony will be broadcast live on ITV.