Open-air shows, plus health and beauty reopenings, also included in latest announcement

Festivals to fairs, carnivals to conventions, Manchester’s events calendar normally bustles with them all…but not this year. Parklife, bluedot and Pride are just some of the major events taking a 2020 hiatus due to COVID-19 while others have bravely postponed in the hope that government advice will change in time.

Now, while indoor events have yet to receive clarity, outdoor happenings - including concerts, theatre shows, some sports and festivals - have been given the go-ahead from Saturday 11th July provided they have ‘a limited and socially distanced audience.’

bluedot is amongst many festivals cancelled this year

That caveat, plus measures like increased sanitation, will still prove a challenge to some. Organisers of the August Flixton Festival, who have ambitiously held off cancelling until now, said they feel a little 50/50 on going ahead and have created an audience poll to help decide.

With advice on indoor events still yet to be announced, meanwhile, some event organisers have changed their format altogether; the Greater Manchester Fringe, usually held in venues citywide, may be replaced by a Garden Fringe this summer (although director Zena Barrie still hopes to host the event in its usual format this autumn). 

Outdoor theatre shows and concerts can also take place under the new guidance. Let’s hope our fickle weather starts playing ball….

This month will also see a small number of indoor events piloted to help plan how and when performance venues can reopen, heralding stage three of the government's roadmap for relaunching the live entertainment industry. Measures will include reduced capacities and electronic ticketing, in case visitor details are needed for the track and trace system.

Guidelines for future performances have also been published - including reduced casts and extra social distancing (three metres) for singers, wind and brass players - while empty venues will be protected from demolition or change of use.

Health and beauty venues were also included in the government’s latest announcement: tattooists, spas and tanning salons can reopen from Monday 13th July while indoor pools and leisure centres will follow on Saturday 25th. Gyms can also return, with some such as G Squared even making 2020 their debut.  

Beauticians can also open from 13th July, though facial treatments still aren’t permitted. These include face waxing, sugaring or threading services, facial treatments, make-up application and eyebrow treatments (fortunately, beauty salons such as House of Evelyn could offer other services like hairdressing from 4th July). New guidelines for sports facilities, meanwhile, include reduced classes and spacing out equipment.

House Of Evelyn 30

Announcing the updates on 9th July, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said ‘normal life is slowly returning’ and that ‘the British public has a new part to play’ in supporting the leisure industry as it emerges from lockdown. Manchester City Council has meanwhile issued a fresh stay safe message as more businesses reopen.

What can reopen/take place when?

Saturday 11th July

  • Outdoor events including concerts, theatre shows and festivals
  • Some outdoor sports, starting with cricket
  • Outdoor pools

Monday 13th July

  • Tattooists
  • Spas
  • Tanning salons
  • Beauticians (excluding face treatments)

Saturday 25th July

  • Leisure centres
  • Indoor pools
  • Indoor gyms and dance studios

Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be allowed in professional environments, while a small number of indoor events will be piloted to help plan how and when performance venues can reopen

Read more: Manchester arts and culture - What’s reopening when?

Also: Chancellor announces new ‘eat out to help out’ scheme to support restaurants

Main images: Manchester Day and UP Fitness