(Reuters) - Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran and The Rolling Stones were among some 1,500 musicians who called on Thursday for the British government to help the live music business survive the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“The future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak,” the musicians wrote in an open letter to British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”
The letter called for a clear timeline on when music venues could reopen, as well as support for businesses and jobs.
Dowden responded to the musicians in a tweet on Thursday saying he is "pushing hard for these dates & to give you a clear roadmap back". He said decisions on reopening of live music venues would be difficult as it relates to the future of social distancing.
Music venues, concerts and festivals - including the annual summer Glastonbury festival - were shuttered or cancelled in March when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the country.
Britain, whose death toll from pandemic is approaching 55,000, showed a Reuters tally of official data sources, is in the process of gradually reopening retail stores, schools and pubs.
The musicians in the letter said live music added 4.5 billion pounds ($5.6 billion) to the British economy and supported 210,000 jobs across the country in 2019.
The appeal was signed by musicians across genres and generations, including Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Bob Geldof, Coldplay, Sting and Dua Lipa, as well as producers and operators of concert halls and clubs.