There are 2 key assumptions in the current thinking around using 'Covid certification' - either vaccine passports or Covid testing - to allow audiences back into theatres and concert halls:
#1 - that a Covid-19 Certification Scheme would enable venues to dispense with social distancing
#2 - that a Certification Scheme is essential to boost consumer confidence, and therefore ticket sales
So let's see what our Culture Restart data from 1-24 March (13K responses) tells us:
Our survey question asks How do you feel about the following being implemented or considered by some cultural organisations?
Among the options are 3 which I think we need to look at carefully:
- ‘A vaccine passport being required to attend live events’
- ‘Covid testing on arrival’
- 'Covid testing on arrival and no other restrictions’ (previously known as 'Operation Moonshot'
Audiences choose where they are on a scale from:
- ‘I feel uncomfortable about this’
- 'I’m OK with this’
- ‘This would be essential for me’
Overall the majority of people are ‘OK’ with both the vaccine passport and Covid testing on arrival – though a significant proportion are uncomfortable with both of these
- For the Vaccine passport – approx. 2/3 are OK with it, 21% uncomfortable and 13% say it would be essential to their return.
- For Covid testing on arrival – similarly, about 2/3 are OK with it but more people are uncomfortable with it (30%) and only 5% say it's essential to their return.
However, when we look at the Operation Moonshot option – ie. Testing on arrival and then all other restrictions removed – audiences are REALLY uncomfortable.
Overwhelmingly respondents don’t want Covid certification to be a license to remove all other safety measures / restrictions in a venue
- 60% are uncomfortable with this idea – 60%!
We think that means – 60% expect to see restrictions in place, even if there is Covid testing or vaccine passport requirement in place.
So….on assumption #1 - That a Covid-19 Certification Scheme would enable venues to dispense with social distancing - we don’t think it does. At all.
So what about assumption #2: That a Certification Scheme is essential to boost consumer confidence, and therefore ticket sales?
Well, if we take the same figures and turn them on their heads:
- For the Vaccine passport – only 13% say it would be essential to their return
- And for Covid testing on arrival only 5% say it’s essential to their return.
This means that if you didn’t do these things, you’d only be risking up to 13% of demand, compared with
- 21% of our respondents who said they were uncomfortable with the vaccine passport
- 36% of under 45s who said they were uncomfortable with the vaccine passport – previously the most likely group to say they would return
- 40% of Asian / Asian British & Black / Black British respondents who said they were uncomfortable with the vaccine passport –
- 30% of our respondents who said they were uncomfortable with Covid testing
- 60% who said they were unhappy with Operation Moonshot
Finally, our data suggests that other measures are far more important for building consumer confidence
Socially distanced seating, one-way systems to manage visitor flow, face masks etc. all rank much more highly in people saying they are essential and have much lower figures for people saying they’re uncomfortable with them. Existing measures and restrictions are already doing the job for confidence building and removing them is far more risky:
- 40% of people would be uncomfortable with no socially distanced seating
- 30% with no masks
And the biggest builder of consumer confidence so far?
Attending events in a Covid-safe way.
Our pre and post visit surveys when venues were able to open last year, showed that people, whilst feeling a little wary before visiting, doubled their confidence levels AS A RESULT OF VISITING (40% before attending and 80% afterwards) – and significantly more likely to want to attend more cultural events as a result.
So - what do we think this means for Covid-19 certification?
- Not having it as a requirement isn’t going to stop the majority of people who want to return to venues from returning – other measures are far more important for them to see in place.
- Requiring Covid-19 Certification may disproportionally add barriers for people who would come anyway – such as young people.
- Getting people back safely – with measures they’re already confident in – is the best way of building consumer confidence
We are working together as the Insights Alliance to help the cultural sector gather the essential audience insight needed to plan for a successful recovery and restart.