The First Socially Distant Music Festival?

“Safer than going to the supermarket” – festival organisers are preparing to create a first in Northern Ireland.

Stendhal Festival socially distant festival
PIC: Ciara McMullan / Stendhal Festival

Following the postponement of Stendhal Festival, an annual award winning weekend festival in a country estate in Limavady, County Londonderry, organisers have reimagined this year’s event over five weekends in August and September. Pressing ahead with plans for ‘Unlocked’, they hope that government regulations relating to mass gatherings will have been eased to allow for 500 to 1,000 people to gather outdoors.

“We will be liaising with the local council, the police, fire service and ambulance service to ensure that we have covered every possible eventuality and how it could relate to social distancing and health and safety,” says festival director Ross Parkhill.

“We are confident that we have put in place a design that will give these bodies the confidence that what we are proposing can be achieved and achieved safely.

“Ultimately the decision on if we can actually go ahead will rest with the executive but with the recent relaxation of lots of lockdown measures, we see no reason as to why what we are proposing wouldn’t be deemed safe.

“Its outdoors, we have a huge space to work with and we can set it up so that everyone can abide by social distancing measures at all times. We feel a sense of duty to produce some sort of gathering this year, it certainly won’t be massive, but it will certainly pack a punch as one of the first live music events to proceed this summer – our work is needed now more than ever.”

Safety measures
Thermal screenings, daily alcohol limits and medical isolation huts are just a few of the measures planned. Organisers say this will offer each festival-goer an average space of 413m², based on the planned attendance of 500 people.

Camp plots will measure 8x8m, with a limit of two people per tent, while social distancing – set to be two metres, possibly reduced to one metre depending on government advice – will be in place around the site, from the festival arenas to food vendors.

No alcohol can be brought onto the site, and revellers will be limited to between six and eight drinks per day, each of which must be purchased using drinks tokens.

Toilets will be cleaned after each use, and medical isolation huts will be available for anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms while at the festival.

“We are confident that we have come up with an event plan that will make going to outdoor music events safer than going to the supermarket,” says Ross.

For more, visit www.stendhalfestival.com

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