Festival cancelled over 'pingdemic' threat to staff

The crowd enjoying Mabel performing on the Saturday of Sundown Festival 2019 at the Royal Norfolk Sh

The threat of a 'pingdemic' has seen a Norfolk festival cancelled for 2021. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The organisers of a Norfolk festival have been forced to cancel their 2021 event despite doing "everything humanly possible to make the party happen".

The removal of social distancing restrictions from July 19 means large-scale events with big attendances are no longer prohibited for the first time since early 2020.

It means huge events like Latitude, which will welcome 40,000 festival-goers to Henham Park in Suffolk this week, can legally go ahead.

But the threat of the so-called pingdemic – NHS Test and Trace notifications for those who have come into contact with someone Covid-positive – has created further concern for business owners and events organisers alike.

For those behind the Houghton Festival the risk has proven too great, and its planned 2021 event has been postponed until next year.

Organisers said they were "utterly heartbroken that this journey has come to an end", but felt they had "no choice but to stop here".

A statement said: "For months now we have waited patiently for a clear horizon, but the ever moving information has led to a blurred way forward rather than a road map which could be trusted, making it incredibly difficult to give progress reports along the way.

"The last 18 months has seen our industry and the surrounding eco-systems overlooked and subsequently brought to its knees.

"The track and trace system supposedly set up to protect us, presents an extraordinary challenge to our workforce. It has the ability to reduce or remove a substantial amount of the workforce at any point with a simple ping.

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"This is set to finish on August 16, the day after the festival ends. Without the correct number of skilled humans it is simply impossible to deliver the show safely and in full flourish."

Now the 2021 event has been called off, Houghton Festival is set to take place from August 11-14 next year.

It is hoped many ticket holders will choose to let their booking roll over until next year, though a refund option is also available.

Customers have 14 days to choose which option they prefer, or they will automatically be rolled over to 2022.