A key worker given a ticket to the Brit Awards has said the event, which is going ahead without social distancing, will be “something quite special”.
Organisers have given 2,500 of the 4,000 tickets for this year’s ceremony at the O2 Arena in London to people working on the front line of the pandemic from the Greater London area.
Audience members attending the indoor ceremony will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated, as the show is part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme.
Ella Thomas, a musical theatre performer who became an NHS 111 caller during the pandemic, said she was taking her teacher flatmate as a guest.
The 25-year-old, originally from Bournemouth, told the PA news agency: “I haven’t seen live music, obviously, since the pandemic and I’m just so excited.
“I think I’m most excited just to be surrounded by loads and loads of people. Obviously, I know it is a test event but I am fully vaccinated and unfortunately I have had it already.
“I know that doesn’t mean I can’t get it again, but I feel in quite a good position and just lucky to be there.
“But I’m just so excited to be seeing live music and seeing all the amazing acts. They’ve got some amazing people.”
Thomas described the Brit Awards’ decision to give tickets to frontline workers as “absolutely amazing”.
She added: “I was talking to someone at work today about it because I actually think that music has been our saviour this year, because when you’re on a break, all you want to do is just close off what’s going on at work and you pop your headphones in and listen to some music.
“So for us to be offered to go is just great. And I feel very lucky. Obviously everyone’s had it hard. It’s not just all of our key workers. But it feels really special to be invited and be a part of something quite special.”
Natasha Callender, an intensive care staff nurse at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said the event showed appreciation for frontline workers who felt “undervalued”.
The 38-year-old, from Crystal Palace in south London, is taking a friend and colleague to the event as her guest.
She told PA: “Especially with what has happened in the last year in terms of us dealing with the pandemic and being on the front line, us not getting a pay rise, I think we are starting to see some sort of appreciation, whether it is people on the street or organisations.
“Again with the Brit Awards I think it is nice people are showing their thanks because we have had the most horrific year. Regardless of things like the clap, we still feel really undervalued.
“I think it is nice and it is one of those events that is uplifting and we all enjoy a bit of music. It will be nice to be a part of that.”
The O2 Arena has implemented coronavirus measures including air purification technology, hand sanitiser stations and a new ventilation system.
Steve Sayer, general manager of the O2 Arena, said the event would be an “incredibly important milestone” on the road to live music returning with full capacity audiences.
He told PA: “The Brits is the start of a new beginning. We plan to build on it and ensure that we continue to wow all of our customers, all of the fans and the bands coming to the O2.
“And the Brits is an incredibly important milestone to get us back up and running at full capacity.”
The arena, owned by AEG, was converted into an NHS training facility in April 2020 to supply staff to the Nightingale hospitals.
Speaking about the past year, Mr Sayer said: “We have all been on an incredible emotional journey – me personally and all of the team here, but also the whole live music ecosystem.
“Nobody really has been doing anything other than recording music and streaming music for the last 12 months.
“It has been a challenging time and yes it has been a little bit stop-start. But we do feel real confidence now.
“When you look at the way the vaccination programme is going, we know that there were three very successful pilots in Liverpool a couple of weekends ago.”
Mr Sayer also said he had been in “close contact” with the key players in some of the tests and understood the results had been “very positive”.
The Brit Awards will take place on Tuesday at the O2 Arena in London.