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Latitude 2021: What being a Covid test event means for the festival

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Thousands of people will head to Suffolk this week for Latitude Festival, which will be at full capacity as a government test event.

The four-day music and arts festival at Henham Park, near Southwold, begins on Thursday, when it will become the first major event to be held following the lifting of most Covid restrictions in England.

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The festival has a capacity of 40,000, made up of a combination of campers and day-ticket holders.

Music headliners include Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Other acts lined up for the festival, which was cancelled last year, include comedians Bill Bailey, Katherine Ryan and Jo Brand.

Organiser Melvin Benn has said a number of ministers and MPs will be among the crowd at this year’s event.

But that will not include Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive on Saturday, and Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who are self-isolating.

Once inside, the event will run as normal, with no social distancing, face masks or restrictions, organisers have said.

People will be able to jump up and down, wave their arms around and have a hug with somebody safely, Mr Benn said.

He thinks it will be an “emotional moment” when the doors open, with it being “the first event that opens properly as a camping event anywhere in the world”.

The events research programme (ERP) was commissioned by the prime minister in February to test how mass gatherings could be held safely, and what measures would help reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

Events around the country were selected, such as the Euro 2020 semi-final and final at Wembley and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit, and some events were specially arranged, like the concerts at Sefton Park in Liverpool.

The government said the events were chosen based on settings that cover a range of criteria, including different audience capacities, outdoor and indoor venues and different layouts.

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Ticket holders will be asked for either proof of a negative lateral flow test taken prior to travel on the day of arrival at the festival, or proof of full vaccination, the second dose having been received at least 14 days before the first day of attending the event.

Visitors can also show proof of natural immunity based on a positive PCR test within 180 days of the festival, including 10 days’ self-isolation following the result.

Children aged 11 or over will need to show a negative lateral flow test result before entry to the festival, but under-11s do not.

Those attending will need to use the NHS app to show whether they are vaccinated, have tested negative or have immunity, if they live in England.

People without a smartphone, or not registered with GP, will have to print our or download their Covid status via the NHS website, or request a letter.

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Those travelling from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different procedures to follow to show their Covid status.

If ticket holders have used a lateral flow test to show they are negative, they will have to take another 48 hours later.

If ticket holders test positive before the event, they cannot attend. If they test positive at the festival, they will be dealt with by the on-site medical team.

In both cases, anyone who tests positive will be given a refund, organisers said.

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The government will use the data from the event to help run future events more safely.

It aims to measure the risk of Covid-19 infection associated with attendance at a mass gathering by looking at those who subsequently request a PCR test from NHS Test and Trace, and then those who test positive.

Research from the first set of pilot events found no major outbreaks.

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