‘We must put health first’: Council blocks We Are 500 events after Covid-19 case rise

Havering Council's director of public health Mark Ansell. Picture: Havering Council

Havering Council's director of public health Mark Ansell. Picture: Havering Council - Credit: Havering Council

Havering Council has announced it is stopping the remaining We Are 500 shows from taking place after a rise in the borough’s Covid infection rates.

We Are FSTVL organised the socially-distanced alternative to its annual dance music festival at Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Upminster.

The events were limited to 500 tickets, beginning on September 5 and due to run on Saturdays and Sundays until October 4.

But a council spokesperson said it has decided to prevent the rest of the planned gigs from happening.

There were 81 positive coronavirus cases in the borough in the week ending September 11 - more than double the figure from two weeks previously.

Mark Ansell, director of public health, said: “We have got to the point that tough decisions have to be made to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus.

“We have kept this and other events under constant review during the backdrop of a national and local increase in infection rates.

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“I must be clear that the festival was well-run and I commend the work and intentions of the organisers. However, we must put public health first. “With ticket holders attending from all over the UK and potentially either bringing or taking with them infections, I can’t be assured that the events will not undermine the efforts going on across the country to contain this virus.

“I apologise to those ticket holders who are inconvenienced as a result of this decision.”

The council said it has informed We Are FSTVL of its reasoning for the decision, including that there is a “serious and imminent threat to public health”.

Council leader Damian White urged people who have booked to come to the borough for the event not to travel.

He said: “It is with regret we need to make this decision, but the increase in infection rates leaves us with no choice.

“While we look forward to the day when the pandemic comes to an end and we can once again enjoy our lives, we need to take decisions such as this to keep residents and people visiting our borough safe.”

The Recorder has contacted We Are FSTVL for comment.