Some 4,000 people watched singers Dua Lipa and Arlo Parks triumph and perform at the BRIT Awards on Tuesday, the first major live indoor music event to take place in London in more than a year.
The British pop music awards, for which the public should not have worn masks or socially distanced, took place at Stadium 02 on the River Thames, as the country emerges from Covid-19 restrictions.
The ceremony, during which Billie Eilish and The Weeknd were also awarded, is part of the British government’s Events Research Program, which aims to establish whether big shows can be held indoors without social distancing.
The audience, of which 2,500 were essential workers and their guests, sat in rows, overlooking two stages, one for the presenters and one for the performers. The nominees sat at spaced tables.
“Tonight we look forward to a brighter future,” said host Jack Whitehall. “We have an audience … we have pop stars, we are back.”
Ticket holders had to show a negative lateral flow test to enter the venue, which has a capacity of 20,000 people. They will also need to post-test and give contact details as part of the UK Covid test and trace system.
“It feels surreal because it’s been a long time,” commented Zunaira Faiz, who works in a North London hospital, on reaching 02. “It almost feels like I’m experiencing something nostalgic because we haven’t been able to do this for so long.” added.
As elsewhere, the Covid-19 pandemic canceled music events with live audiences in Britain. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phased reopening roadmap, entertainment venues will be able to reopen their doors next week.
Lipa, who won two awards – best female solo artist and best album for “Future Nostalgia” – declared that she dedicated her performance to essential workers.
“I am grateful to be sharing this evening with them,” Lipa told Reuters.
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Although some performances were live, including that of Lipa, Parks and Olivia Rodrigo, others were prerecorded.
Intending to embrace the community spirit and kindness seen during the Covid-19 quarantine, organizers said this year’s winners will receive two awards and encourage them to share one of them.
American singer Taylor Swift became the first female artist to receive the Global Icon Award. David Bowie, Elton John and Robbie Williams had hosted it in the past.
Harry Styles won the award for best single for “Watermelon Sugar”, while Little Mix became the first girl band to win the award for best British group.