Concert-goers could face having to stand metres apart in barely filled rooms if venues decide to reopen when government guidelines permit them to.
But the cost of staging concerts with diminished income could see some venues decide against the move, bringing the future of many into question.
The UK government is still working towards early July as a possible date for the re-opening of pubs and restaurants in England, which shut down at the beginning of March due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The Welsh Government is also developing guidance for the creative industries. There are more details on the re-opening of shops and other businesses here.
In doing so, they are taking note of work by the Music Venue Alliance, which is undertaking an information gathering exercise, Reopen Every Venue Safely (REVS), to determine whether, under social distancing measures, especially at 2 metres, venues will be able to operate, and whether the sector will need additional funding to survive longer periods of closure.
Under current social distancing guidelines, it means that, were venues to reopen, they would be starkly different to the way they have operated in the past.
Hangar 18 owners Matthew Davies and Sara Dark say social distancing will pose huge problems for live music venues
(Image: WalesOnline/ Gayle Marsh)
Matthew Jones, of Swansea live music venue Hangar 18, said: “We are keen to re-open but we want to do so in a safe manner.
“For us, we simply couldn’t re-open the venue limited to such a small capacity, it would cost us more than staying closed.
“However, we want the whole sector to be able to secure funding to stay closed until the social distancing measures can be relaxed and venues can open and operate at a level that they can at least break even at.
“Under our capacity planning as part of REVS, our capacity drops from 370 to just 26 people on the floor and four people on the stage under social distancing measures.
“That puts a nail in the coffin for us as there would be no way to re-open the venue limited to that capacity. We will have to wait until it is either brought down to one metre distancing or until the distancing finishes altogether”.
Matthew and Sara show how far apart punters would have to be at Hangar 18 under current social distancing guidelines
(Image: WalesOnline/ Gayle Marsh)
Mr Jones said the reduced capacity would mean, for them, a steep increase in the price of tickets to cover costs, of almost four times the sum charged before lockdown, and even then they would still face losing hundreds of pounds.
And he warned that even if venues were permitted to reopen, many might consider it more prudent to remain closed.
He added: “We’re at the point where we are reviewing the system to see whether it will be safe and financially viable.
“We would need seventy people upwards for a gig to ensure we are not losing money. But there are a lot of questions, such as would we be able to have additional stewards, which would mean more costs.
“Most venues have up and down periods financially. We try and get a balance with live music and club nights.
“The Welsh Government have offered grants to help keep places open.
“We are safe for the foreseeable future. We’ve got our bills down, concluded what we don’t need. And we’re probably safe until the end of the year.
“We’ve been reluctant to ask for funding for Hangar 18 as we have enough money to survive a few months, but after plotting these plans it does make us worry about our future”.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government confirmed it would be referring to the REVS guidance as it determined its own guidance for the creative sector.
He added: “We have developed guidance for the creative sector which also includes guidance for live music venues.
“Any decisions about changing the regulations and opening of venues are guided by scientific advice and will be made when they are safe to do so.”