What does the arts and events industry make of 'Freedom Day' delay?

Peter Jay with his son Jack Jay at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth.
December 2014.

Peter Jay (left), owner of Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, with his son, Jack Jay - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

The arts and events industry has reacted with a mix of frustration and acceptance after the final easing of coronavirus restrictions was delayed by four weeks.

Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday evening that 'Freedom Day' - when remaining rules such as social distancing were due to end - would be deferred until July 19. 

The decision has been backed by many in the scientific community, but the prime minister has faced a rebellion from some Conservative MPs.

And dozens of performance venues and organisers across Norfolk and Waveney are having to reconsider whether forthcoming plans can go ahead.

Among those hit by the news is Folk in a Field Festival, which had been due to take place at Bradmoor Woods in West Acre from July 2-4. 

West Acre estate woodsman Luke Horncastle is organising a two day folk festival in July. Picture: Ma

Luke Horncastle, founder of Folk in a Field Festival which takes place in West Acre, near Swaffham - Credit: Matthew Usher

Luke Horncastle, its founder, said: "At the moment I'm looking at different options and will see what is viable without compromising the sell of the festival. 

"I was hoping events would get a mention, perhaps that those outside could go ahead with testing - but there was nothing.

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"Football matches are being allowed to go ahead, but arts and events have just been forgotten. Again we've been brushed under the carpet."

West Acre estate woodsman Luke Horncastle is organising a two day folk festival in July. Picture: Ma

Arts and events bosses in Norfolk have reacted with frustration and acceptance after the end of lockdown was delayed by four weeks - Credit: Archant

On the east coast, Yarmouth Hippodrome's summer show is still due to get under way on July 7 with social distancing in place.

But owner Peter Jay, who believes delaying the June 21 easing was the correct call, hopes to be operating at full capacity from the first available date. 

"We were expecting this news and I think they have done the right thing," added Mr Jay.

The Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus building in Great Yarmouth.
Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome hopes to be back at full capacity soon - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

"It is better to be cautious. The last thing we want is to open up and then get pushed back into another lockdown. 

"Operating has been hard, but all the way through I've been determined to keep the momentum going and not disappoint our audience who are keen to see the shows."

Meanwhile, Diss Corn Hall, which hosts all manner of events, has already seen cancellations following the latest announcement. 

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall - Credit: Courtesy of Lee Johnson

"Two music acts have cancelled and that is because they want to see people singing and dancing," said operations manager Lee Johnson.

"We can only seat around 145 with restrictions and some performers have said that just doesn't work."

Diss Corn Hall
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Some events have already been cancelled at Diss Corn Hall - Credit: Sonya Duncan