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“It’s like a spectre”: Omicron variant threatens vital Christmas market for Yorkshire musicians

  • reporter 

By Daniel Pye

As Boris Johnson announced ‘Plan B’ measures in response to the new Covid-19 strain, Omicron, musicians in Yorkshire are already reporting a loss of bookings into the New Year.

York-based musician Michael Collinson said: “Some of the gigs that we’ve lined up to do are not going to happen, because they’re not going to pay for an artist when they’ve had two or three people cancel.”

One-third of people left the music industry over the pandemic, according to the organisation that represents the sector, UK Music. And local music has only slowly recovered since Covid restrictions were lifted in June this year.

Musician Mark Pratt moved to Leeds from Cumbria

Another musician, Mark Pratt, told Yorkshire Voice: “It felt like starting again, I felt a bit rusty.” He had moved to Leeds from Cumbria to further his music career before the pandemic, but had to remain in his job to support himself.

He has since built up momentum, but admitted that recent news made him feel worried again: “I saw the press conference and it looks like small changes, which is fine. However, in the last week or so it has crept into my mind again.”

“Some of the gigs that we’ve lined up to do are not going to happen.”

Michael Collinson

Michael Collinson said he had no faith that musicians would receive support from the council if restrictions came in again: “They like music, but they think it should be free.”

From next week the new measures will mean that venues with large capacities are obliged to ask punters to provide their NHS Pass proving that they have been double vaccinated.

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