A socially distant concert kept thousands of fans nearly 2 metres apart using private viewing decks

Thomas M Jackson / Getty ImagesSam Fender poses at Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 11, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • The UK held its first socially distant concert at pop-up venue Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 11 in Newcastle.
  • About 2,500 guests were kept at a safe distance using private viewing decks spaced six feet apart (1.8 metres).
  • Some concerts this year, mainly in the US, have been criticised for not observing social distancing, and not telling people to wear masks.
  • Newcastle has more concerts planned with similar social distancing measures for the coming months.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Concerts are sweaty, crowded, with plenty of screaming and singing – things the novel coronavirus thrives on.

So far, attempts to hold coronavirus-proof concerts have struggled. Gigs for country singer Chase Rice in Tennessee, and Smash Mouth in South Dakota were criticised for not enforcing the six-foot (1.8 metre) rule that can reduce coronavirus transmission, and not mandating masks.

But this week, concert organisers in the UK showed that, with some creativity, it may be possible to gather thousands of people to sing, dance, and enjoy live music in a safe way.

On August 11, pop up venue Virgin Money Unity Area in Newcastle held its first-ever socially distant concert – equipped with 500 private viewing decks spaced six feet apart (1.8 metres) to keep its 2,500 attendees safe, reported Popular Mechanics.

Fans begin to arrive for Sam Fenders performance at Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 11, 2020Thomas M Jackson / Getty ImagesFans begin to arrive for Sam Fenders performance at Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 11, 2020

The viewing decks are made of metal frames and limited to five people from the same household.

The show’s organisers, SD Concerts, told Metro people are meant to park in the parking lot before heading straight to their assigned private viewing deck to watch the concert.

Outdoor concertThomas M Jackson / Getty Images

Each viewing area also had its own fridge for food and drinks, a table, and chairs to make sure fans didn’t have to venture away from their deck too often and risk contact with others.

The city of Newcastle has multiple concerts planned with similar logistical setups using these elevated viewing decks.

“We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown,” Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money, told Metro. “This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans.”


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