Thousands descend on UK music festival amid rise in COVID cases


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© Reuters. A young festivalgoer jumps to burst a bubble at Latitude Festival at Henham Park, Britain, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

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By Natalie Thomas

HENHAM PARK, England (Reuters) – Thousands of people poured into the grounds of the Latitude music festival in eastern England on Thursday, one of the biggest gatherings since most coronavirus restrictions were lifted earlier this week.

The four-day festival, expected to attract around 40,000 people, comes as COVID-19 cases across the country broadly rise. Music lovers arriving on a balmy summer’s day had to show they had been vaccinated twice or tested negative for the disease.

“I guess I’d kind of say, ‘If not now, when are we going to start back up again?'” said Katy McKenna, 21.

“A lot of us have had at least our first dose of the vaccine, so we’re ready to get back to life, and all the musical performers have had a year off and they deserve a festival (so) they can get back out there and perform.”

Sheep painted pink grazed on the grass, crowds milled around giant marquees and people erected their tents before heading to the main stages to hear their favourite acts.

The government test event will carry on without social distancing measures or the need to wear masks, and organisers have designed marquees without sides and installed air purifiers in some areas to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading.

“All the plans were in place, all the bands were in place, people were just, you know desperate to come, desperate to play, desperate to work, and really be out in a field enjoying themselves again, and that’s what we’re doing,” said festival founder Melvin Benn.

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Among the acts headlining the festival are Damon Albarn, Wolf Alice, Rudimental and The Chemical Brothers.

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