25th March 2020

In the light of recent government policy on strict social distancing we have taken tickets to HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2020 off sale. We are however continuing to keep the overall situation under review. We have not yet cancelled the festival because the situation remains fluid and it remains possible that circumstances may change.

The Prime Minister has said that he will update current social distancing constraints in three weeks. We will review our position regarding the festival then if we have not done so beforehand. And we will only proceed with the festival if it is safe for festival goers and contributors and in line with government policy on social distancing.

20th March 2020

We are aware that many large events have decided to cancel and you may be surprised that we have not yet done so.

The situation is changing remarkably fast. No one knows where we will be in a week's time, let alone a month's time or at the end of May when the festival is planned to take place. We have taken the view that we will continue to assess the situation and will make a decision about the festival closer to the planned date when we will all have more data to fully understand the health situation and risks involved.

In the event that the festival is cancelled all tickets will be refunded.

19th March 2020

'Relevant to our decision to maintain the option of going ahead with the festival is the conclusion regarding mass gatherings in the recently published report by Professor Neil Ferguson's team at Imperial College on which current government policy is based. "Stopping mass gatherings is predicted to have relatively little impact because the contact-time at such events is relatively small compared to the time spent at home, in schools or workplaces and in other community locations such as bars and restaurants". (Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID 19 mortality and healthcare demand.  p.8)In addition, HowTheLightGetsIn unlike major football matches and Glastonbury does not require additional support from police or ambulance services and therefore poses no additional strain on services that might be required elsewhere. We will continue however to monitor the situation closely and will post updates regularly.'

17th March 2020

We continue to watch the rapidly developing situation closely.  Recent statements from the government have made it more likely that we may have to cancel HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2020.  The severe restrictions recently advised may though be modified prior to the festival enabling us to proceed.  In addition, the government has reinforced its position on large gatherings: they are not centres of mass virus spread, but events that require emergency services to be on standby are a drain on vital resources for the fight against Covid-19. Whilst we do have health and safety officers on our festival site, as well as trained first aiders, because of the scale of the event we do not require the services of ambulances on standby in the way required by larger events. Unless the government changes its stance, we continue therefore to operate on the basis that the festival will go ahead in May.  Please see below our previous update the details of which still apply.


10th March 2020

At this time, HowTheLightGetsIn Hay 2020 festival is going ahead as planned. 

Please be assured however that the safety and health of all staff and visitors is our main priority and we are implementing recommendations and instructions appropriately. 

We would not proceed with the festival if we concluded that it was not safe for festival goers, speakers, performers and festival staff, but our judgement currently is that attendance at the festival is likely to be as safe for the majority of attendees as any other year.   For the detail of how and why we have arrived at this conclusion please see the note below.   

We continue to monitor the situation carefully and your wellbeing and health is our primary focus.  We are closely monitoring official guidance from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England, UK Government, and local public health authorities and if you are attending we recommend that you follow the most up to date information available from these sources.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us.  

In the event that the festival is cancelled the full ticket price will be refunded promptly.   

(Note:  There is some risk of course to all activities.  So the important question is not the absolute but the comparative risks of different activities.  Seasonal flu deaths in England averaged 17,262 over the past five years, or 308 deaths per million of the population.  (Gov.uk 'Annual flu reports 2018-19' p.51 Table 7).  Coronavirus deaths in China are currently a little over 3100 over the last three months and are running at around 20 a day (and falling). (WHO 'Situation reports').  One can estimate annual Chinese deaths therefore as likely to be lower than 8500 which is equivalent to 6.5 deaths per million.  So approximately one fiftieth of average seasonal deaths from flu in England. 

While the current ratio of deaths to cases is higher for coronavirus than flu and more so for those in high risk categories, it is nevertheless the case that the UK outbreak of coronavirus would on average have to be 50 times worse than China's outbreak for the health risk for a typical individual to be greater than the average seasonal risk from flu in the UK. China was of course very effective in the measures that it introduced to contain the virus and the UK may not prove as effective.  But we might reasonably hope and expect that the UK outbreak will not prove to be more than 50 times worse.  It is for this reason that we currently conclude that the average festival goer is unlikely to be at greater risk from attending the festival than in normal circumstances.  It may even be that the average visitor will be safer this year than in previous years because increased hygiene will reduce flu deaths and could more than compensate for the new coronavirus deaths. It is however very important that we take all care to ensure that we do not to infect those who have underlying health conditions or who are frail, and our procedures and messaging both before and at the festival will seek to ensure this is the case.