Here’s what the first socially-distant music venue will look like

6 July 2020, 11:59

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Sophie Thompson

By Sophie Thompson

Newcastle's Virgin Money Unity Arena will be the first socially-distant concert venue and is set to open this summer, featuring a 2,500-person capacity and 500 platforms for audiences to enjoy shows together.

It's been a tough old year for the music industry, but hope is finally on the horizon, because we've got a first look inside the first socially-distant concert venue.

Based in Newcastle, UK, the Virgin Money Unity Arena is set to open its (metaphorical) doors this summer and it's built specifically to accommodate current social-distancing rules. So while the hotly-anticipated Chromatica Ball may have been postponed, we still could have something to look forward to this year in the form of outdoor concerts.

The venue, built on the city's racetrack, will have a 2,500 capacity and 500 safely-spaced platforms for gig-goers and their social bubbles to enjoy a host of “several high-profile artists” that are set to be announced on July 7. Food and drinks are also back on the menu, but will have to be pre-ordered in advance via an app, so there'll be no sneaking off to the bar during the support act.

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The Virgin Money Unity Arena can host up to 2,500 concert-goers at a safe distance.
The Virgin Money Unity Arena can host up to 2,500 concert-goers at a safe distance. Picture: Taylor Hill/Film Magic/Virgin Money

Of course, as coronavirus is still rife, guests must keep six feet apart at all times, and must arrive at the venue by car, where they will be given a socially-distant spot to park in. The staff will be all be wearing masks and gloves, and each row of platforms inside the outdoor stadium will have a dedicated section of bathrooms to help limit groups.

Concerts will begin in August, and the venue has also pledged to donate a limited number of free tickets to each show to National Health Service workers.

Ged Bell of Newcastle city council told the Guardian that the Virgin Money Unity Arena is “a brilliant innovation where people will be able to enjoy top bands in a safe, responsible and socially distanced way.”

SSD Concerts’ Steve Davis added, “We think even in these hard times the people of the northeast will come out in their thousands to see the artists they love.”

Clear your diaries, because 2020 isn't cancelled just yet!

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