UPDATE 11am Wednesday 18th February: The festival has been officially cancelled. Tickets will roll over to next year.
Much of the internet is convinced Glastonbury has been called off due to coronavirus tonight. It comes after an established poster on the eFestivals Glastonbury forum shared what they claim is a screenshot showing the eldest daughter of Glastonbury founder Micheal Eavis announcing “Glastonbury 2020 cancelled” on Facebook.
Soon after, an Instagram story supposedly posted by another family member surfaced online bearing the same news. eFestivals and Stagedoor FM have both said their sources support the rumours.
The rumours are unconfirmed and Glastonbury said they were planning to hold the festival as normal as recently as Thursday night when the main line-up was released. A week earlier, they said planning and preparations were continuing as normal while the festival closely monitors the coronavirus situation.
Though it seems unusual for a family member to post about a cancellation on social media ahead of an official announcement, it’s currently being taken as genuine by a huge majority of the online community. eFestival’s owner Neil Greenway, who correctly hinted the line-up poster would be revealed on Thursday, said within the hour he is: “hearing similar from other reliable unofficial sources”.
A few minutes later, a Twitter user shared a screenshot of an Instagram story, supposedly posted by one of Michael’s grandchildren, showing the Pyramid Stage with the caption: “So sad not to be going this year; It’s for the best”.
We’ve reached out to Glastonbury for an official response – or a confirmation Thursday’s statement still stands. Despite the lack of any confirmation, one disappointed ticket holder has already started a petition to allow those with tickets to guarantee their place at Glastonbury 2021.
Earlier today, Euronews correspondent Jack Parrock said on Twitter: “I’m hearing that workers at Glastonbury are being issued refunds for their ticket deposits. An early warning sign that the festival could be cancelled.”
He went on to add the information was “double sourced”.
Trusted accounts such as ‘The Glasto Thingy’ and ‘Stagedoor FM’ have reacted as though the rumours could be true, taking to Twitter in the minutes after the post was made:
Boris Johnson said on Monday the country should now “emphatically” move away from mass gatherings, and while he didn’t announce an outright ban, emergency services will no longer support any such events.
This measure will last indefinitely and will make it extremely difficult for festivals to obtain Support Advisory Group or ‘SAG’ approval. Without this, it’s extremely unlikely a local authority would grant a festival its licence.
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals or AIF said today: ““The Prime Minister’s announcement amounts to a ban on live events and while we understand the measures taken, we also urge the Government to classify it as such. The lack of such clarification creates widespread confusion and greatly harms promoters’ efforts to weather this unprecedented storm.”
The last official word from Glastonbury came around 7pm Thursday night, when they said alongside the line-up announcement: “As things stand we are still working hard to deliver our 50th anniversary Festival in June and we are very proud of the bill that we have put together over the last year or so.
“No one has a crystal ball to see exactly where we will all be 15 weeks from now, but we are keeping our fingers firmly crossed that it will be here at Worthy Farm for the greatest show on Earth!”
And around a week before that statement, Glastonbury Festival’s Head of Event Operations Adrian Coombs told Somerset Live: “Glastonbury Festival thoroughly plans each year’s event, and puts in place all necessary measures to protect the public and maximise safety.
“We work closely with all of the relevant agencies, including Public Health England and the NHS, and always review our plans as any circumstances change. With this in mind and with our 2020 Festival still 16 weeks away, we continue to plan and prepare for the event, whilst at the same time closely monitoring developments with the coronavirus situation.”
In June last year, the BBC reported Glastonbury have cash reserves of £10.6 million, maintained due to the unpredictable nature of hosting live events.
Despite the fact the official word remains that Glastonbury is going ahead, countless fans are taking to social media to vent their frustrations:
Over 200,000 crew, artists and ticketholders are expected at Glastonbury, taking place at Worthy Farm, Pilton from 24th-28th June 2020.
Public Health England previously told TheFestivals they have no specific coronavirus advice for those attending large gatherings such as music festivals, as the general advice applies in all settings. This is to always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes, and bin the tissue, in addition to washing hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser gel.