The Brit Awards will return to London's O2 Arena in Greenwich tonight, the first live music show at the venue in more than a year, with over 2,500 tickets gifted to people working on the front line of the pandemic.

There will be an audience of 4,000 people at this year's event, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, as part of the Government's live events pilot scheme, with 2,500 tickets gifted to key workers from the Greater London area.

Audience members attending the indoor ceremony will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated for the first time in over a year.

They will, however, need proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue and will be required to provide details to NHS Test and Trace and follow Government guidance while travelling.

One NHS call handler attending said the event would be something quite special,' whilst a Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust member added that it helped them feel "valued after a horrific year."

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "Music has been a great source of comfort and connection during the pandemic.

"Tonight we'll bring the industry back together with 2,500 key workers to celebrate another year of brilliant British music and look ahead to the return of fans to live performances."

"While venues have been closed, we helped the live music sector with £250 million in grants from our Culture Recovery Fund going to more than 2,000 organisations.

The Brit Awards will take place at the O2 Arena in Greenwich

The Brit Awards will take place at the O2 Arena in Greenwich

"But now we're preparing to restart live performances and as part of the Events Research Programme, this year's Brits will test how we can welcome back bigger crowds to enjoy more fantastic performances safely."

The ceremony will air live on ITV and ITV Hub from 8pm, while Chelcee Grimes and Arielle Free will host the international live stream via the Brits YouTube page.

Yasmin Evans and AJ Odudu will host a stream of the red carpet, which has been limited in capacity this year, and there will also be a watch party on Twitter.

Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Celeste, rap duo Young T & Bugsey and DJ and producer Joel Corry are all nominated for three awards this year.

Jessie Ware, dance music duo Bicep and rappers AJ Tracey, J Hus and Headie One all scored two nominations apiece.

Coldplay will start the ceremony with a performance of new single Higher Power from a pontoon on the River Thames.

They join Arlo Parks, Dua Lipa, Griff, Headie One, Olivia Rodrigo and Rag'n'Bone Man and Pink with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir on the live billing for the event.

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir will perform at the event.

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir will perform at the event.

Tuesday's show will also see Taylor Swift celebrated with the global icon Brit Award, becoming the first female artist to win the prize.

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 Evening at the O2 Arena in London.