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German tests show you ‘can’t write off the summer yet’

Rapid testing could add €20 to a concert ticket, but it's a price worth paying if it means events may resume, say participants in Berlin's now-paused pilot project

By Jon Chapple on 30 Mar 2021

Berlin Philharmonic (Berliner Philharmoniker)

image © Berliner Philharmoniker

The artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic has shared preliminary findings from the orchestra’s recent pilot concert, saying the zero infections among the 1,000 people who attended the show is further proof that events can be organised safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The 20 March performance, part of a series of planned test concerts which have now been cut short by a new lockdown in Berlin, welcomed fans who could provide a negative Covid-19 test to the 1,180-seat Chamber Music Hall for a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No 2.

According to the Philharmoniker’s Andrea Zietzschmann, shows such as those in Berlin are helping to create “a perspective that we can find a creative, constructive and responsible approach to being able to organise cultur[al events] again during the pandemic.” The city’s pilot project is “not only of great importance for Berlin, but also for the entire cultural landscape,” she adds.

Dr Florian Kainzinge, who oversaw the rapid testing ahead of the concert, has revealed that it cost €23,000 to test the 680 people who were tested at the Chamber Music Hall, plus 200 staff. According to the Tagesspiegel, this would add around €20 to the cost of tickets at venues of a similar size.

Other findings include that it took an average of 12 minutes between testing and producing the result (all negative in the case of 20 March concert), and that the no-show rate, at 43, was also much lower when compared to a normal concert.

“The pilot project can create a perspective that we can find a creative, constructive and responsible approach to being able to organise culture again”

Only two people were turned away, for forgetting to bring their proof of having a negative Covid-19 test.

Marko Hegner from Goodlive says the results so far should be transferable to events of all kinds, “so we shouldn’t write off the event summer yet.”

The initial findings come as Berlin presses pause on its cultural Pilotprojekt, which also includes events in other events in concert halls, theatres and nightclubs, due to the worsening coronavirus situation in Germany.

Michael Müller, the mayor of Berlin, says the controlled test events will be continued at a later date. “It is absolutely clear that the pilot projects that we have planned for culture, sport and gastronomy can no longer be implemented [at present],” he explains.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been critical of the approach taken by local governments which are focusing on mass testing as opposed to stay-at-home orders or lockdowns.

“I really don’t know now whether testing and [allowing people to] wander, as they say in Berlin, is the right answer to what’s going on at the moment,” she said earlier this week.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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