Music, leisure and retail venue, The O2 in Greenwich, London, has announced that the arena will welcome a live audience of 4,000 to attend The Brit Awards on Tuesday evening.
The venue will host the UK’s largest indoor pilot event as part of the governments Events Research Programme (ERP) without social distancing in place.
The pilot event is a significant step for the venue, as well as the wider industry and associated supply chains who have all found the last 12 months incredibly challenging. The O2 supports 7,700 jobs in Greater London and £750m of expenditure per year, equating to £520m in GVA terms.
The venue will deliver this event to help shape and pave the way back to hosting full capacity events again in future, and new partnerships and technology will enhance the fan experience, putting the capability in their hands:
A new partnership struck by AEG Global Partnerships with Unilever’s Lifebuoy, to become the Official Hand Sanitiser Partner of The O2. The 3-year deal sees 256 branded units prominently displayed across The O2 as a very visual reassurance measure following insight obtained by The O2 that indicated 75% of visitors wanted to see this when they returned to live events.
The O2 arena has enhanced the level of filtration for all fresh air coming into the arena in line with the latest recommendations. There is a smart temperature-controlled ventilation system in place which brings fresh air in through vents in the ceiling, evacuating spent air through the roof of the venue ensuring fresh controlled air throughout.
Carbon dioxide levels are constantly monitored, and the ERP group have installed around 75 additional sensors to monitor CO2 level changes throughout the event.
Protection for visitors and staff against virus transmission is key, and a new partnership announced with Rentokil Initial as Official Specialist Hygiene Services Partner at The O2 will see the installation of a cutting edge Viruskillertm air purification technology which is proven to kill 99.9999% of viruses, including Coronavirus.
The units also decontaminate the air, by not only trapping but also killing airborne viruses, bacteria and fungi, which helps the venue mitigate risk. This follows updated guidance from the World Health Organisation which has said Coronavirus is most likely to be transmitted when in close proximity to other people.
Testing is a major part of the pilot event, with all guests taking an NHS Lateral Flow Test in the 36 hours prior to the event, and a PCR test on the day and 5 days after the event which are both sent for laboratory testing to assess any transmission from the event. It is clear that continued levels of regular testing are going to be around for some time and may be the enabler for life to return to some levels of former normality whether for events or overseas travel.
The O2 has begun a collaboration with Collinson to convert a section of its ample car parking facilities into a walk up / drive in asymptomatic testing site. The privately owned company offers both PCR and lateral flow tests that enable customers to meet government regulations for foreign travel, and a recent extension of the facility will see this in place through until the end of June.
The O2’s Deputy General Manager and Operations Director, Danielle Kennedy-Clark has been leading the organisation of the pilot event working with The Brits and the ERP as well as local authority and DCMS representatives to ensure plans are in place to safely welcome guests into the arena again.
Kennedy-Clark said, “Operationally we are used to safely welcoming around 20,000 guests into the arena, while the wider campus is open to visitors shopping, dining and enjoying the other activities on site.
'Our 4,000 guests for the event will be split between 2 groups outside The O2’s main entrance where we will check their negative COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test result before allowing them into The O2.
'Once inside for the pilot event there won’t be any social distancing measures in place, however customers are expected to wear a face covering at all times except when in their seat or suite.
'We’re well staffed and our guest relations teams are looking forward to getting back to carrying out their frontline roles welcoming guests and helping them to their seats. Our digital ticketing and COVID-19 security measures mean we are able to do this in a smooth and contactless manner.'
VP & General Manager of The O2, Steve Sayer commented, “This event is such a big moment for us, and I’m enormously proud of the team at The O2 who have been working round the clock to ensure we have a best-in-class event as always, and that our customer experience is everything our fans have been waiting over 14 months to experience again.
'Our new measures and partnerships will ensure our guests feel confident at our venue as we make history as the largest indoor pilot event. This and all of the events that make up the Events Research Programme create a really important step for the industry’s recovery.
'Ultimately, we hope that it will contribute to all venues across the country being able to reopen with full capacity crowds from next month.”
During the first lockdown, owners and operators of The O2, AEG, quickly moved to make The O2 arena available to the NHS as a training facility to on-board staff ready for the NHS Nightingale Hospital at Excel London, becoming the venue’s longest ever residency.
Since June 2020 when Icon Outlet and roof walk Up at The O2 first reopened to the public, the venue has become adept at managing large volumes of visitors while adhering to new social distancing measures and enhanced hygiene requirements and it is this experience that has put The O2 in a unique position to be hosting the pilot event.