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Paris test results: Concerts don’t pose extra Covid risk

The findings from a recent test concert in France show that attending a concert is not associated with an increased risk of transmission when certain hygiene and testing protocols are followed.

The clinical trial, organised by French live music association Prodiss and Paris hospital AP-HP under the banner ‘Ambition Live Again’, took place on 29 May at the Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris with DJ Etienne de Crécy and the band Indochine.

The trial compared the risk of contamination between two randomised groups: an experimental group of 4,451 people who attended the concert and a control group of 2,227 people who did not attend the concert.

In the first stage, 6,968 people took a rapid antigen test within three days of the concert. Of those, 290 people had ‘non-inclusion criteria’ – one of whom had a positive rapid antigen test – and were not allowed to participate in the experiment.

On the day of the concert, all participants had to present proof of their negative test at the entrance, either downloaded on the TousAntiCovid-Carnet app – which was trialled for the first time at a public cultural event – or in paper format.

Throughout the event, participants’ compliance with wearing masks was assessed by an artificial intelligence tool

The health protocols at the event included the continuous wearing of surgical masks by all participants, reinforcement of hand sanitisation, and optimised ventilation of the room. The bars/restaurants and the smoking areas were closed. Bottles of water were distributed at will.

Throughout the event, participants’ compliance with wearing masks was assessed by an artificial intelligence tool from images captured in real-time by cameras placed in the room thanks to a scientific collaboration with Datakalab.

During the four hours that attendees were present in the AccorArena, the overall compliance with wearing a mask was evaluated at 91%.

Seven days after the event, all participants were required to take a PCR test. The number of participants with a positive PCR test was eight among the 3,917 participants in the experimental group, compared to three among the 1,947 participants in the control group.

Among those eight participants in the experimental group, five were already positive on the day of the concert, excluding the possibility of contamination during the show. Some participants did not return their saliva samples or did not come to the concert.

Prodiss says that its primary aim now is to dissuade the government from a “stop and go” approach

In conclusion, the study showed a similar infection rate in people attending the indoor, standing concert while wearing a mask (0.20%) compared to the people not attending (0.15%). (The incidence rate observed in the study corresponds to the estimated incidence rate in France in the two weeks preceding the event.)

AP-HP is now submitting the analysed data from the study for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, while Prodiss has requested a meeting with the government to discuss next steps.

The association says that its primary aim now is to dissuade the government from a “stop and go” approach and avoid the live industry shutting down when the incidence rate goes up.

The Paris results follow similar positive data out of studies in multiple other European countries, all of which showed that live events do not pose a risk to public health while Covid-19 is still a threat.

 


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Ambition Live Again: 5,000 attend French pilot show

Five thousand people packed into Paris’s Accor Arena with no social distancing on Saturday night for Ambition Live Again – the long-awaited pilot event with which the French live industry hopes to persuade the government to allow it to reopen as soon as possible.

Headlined by popular French pop-rock band Indochine, the concert, organised by industry association Prodiss and the AP-HP (Assistance publique-Hopitaux de Paris), forms part of a clinical trial which aims to demonstrate – as in Germany, Spain and, most recently, the Netherlands – that live events can be held safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Contrary to earlier announcements that the show would admit people with Covid-19, all 5,000 attendees had to test negative twice before entry – once via an antigen test performed in the previous three days, and then again with a rapid test on the day of the show (29 May). Like the Barcelona pilot but unlike the UK’s Events Research Programme, all concertgoers were also required to wear masks inside the arena.

Fans are also requested to provide a PCR test seven days after the show (5 June).

“Do not forget to return your saliva sample this Saturday, 5 June,” Prodiss urged attendees on social media. “The research team needs it! We are counting on you!”

https://twitter.com/prodiss/status/1399349161695318016

Due to the 9pm curfew still in place in France, the concert took earlier than planned, with Indochine on stage by 6pm, according to the AFP. Etienne de Crécy played a DJ set at 5pm.

As of 28 May, just 37% of the French population had received one Covid-19 vaccine. As a result, vaccination status was not taken into account “in this experiment because most young people are not vaccinated in France yet. In fact, we specifically selected participants between 18 and 45 years old who mostly aren’t vaccinated,” AP-HP’s Jean-Marc Treluyer tells ABC News.

Results from the Ambition Live Again study – which will compare infection rates among those in the arena with a 2,500-person control group not selected to attend the show – are expected in June.

 


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Paris test concert finally rescheduled

After a series of stops and starts, French live music association Prodiss and Paris hospital AP-HP have finally been given the green light for the Paris test concert.

The clinical trial was initially announced in February and should have taken place in April but the scheme got “stuck on the government side”, with the ministry of culture proving “unreachable” amid the new lockdown measures.

The experiment, dubbed ‘Ambition Live Again’, will now take place on 29 May at the Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris with DJ Etienne de Crécy and the band Indochine.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups: an experimental group of 5,000 people will attend the concert and a control group of 2,500 people will not attend the concert.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups

The concertgoers will be required to take an antigen test a maximum of 72 hours before the concert and a PCR test seven days after the concert, while the control group will take a self-test on the day of the concert.

Once inside, attendees will not socially distance, though everyone will be required to wear a mask.

The scientific team specified that the participants could not be people at risk and must be in an age group between 18-45 years old and live in Ile-de-France. A full list of criteria can be found on the Ambition Live Again website.

The sister pilot in Marseille was also hit by delays and has not yet been rescheduled. As reported in IQ, a thousand people are expected to attend the two shows at the Dôme (cap. 8,500) in Marseille, which will see performances from French hip-hop group Iam.

See IQ‘s extensive timeline of live music pilot projects here and read about them in-depth here.

 


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French pilot concerts hit by delays

As the Netherlands steams ahead with yet another round of clinically monitored pilot concerts, media in France is asking when its test shows, first announced in January but still without dates, will take place.

The concerts were supposed to have kicked off in the second half of March, with French hip-hop group Iam playing two shows at the 8,500-capacity Dôme in Marseille, followed by a sister event with the band Indochine at Paris’s Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in April. A thousand people are expected to attend the Marseille concerts, with the Paris experiment having a capacity for 5,000.

During a session of the French Senate on 25 March, sénateurs heard from Constance Delaugerre of St Louis Hospital, which is supporting the Paris show, that the concerts are still feasible, despite tightening restrictions in France (which culminated in a third national lockdown from Sunday 4 April). Additionally, on Friday the city of Marseille signed an agreement with Inserm (the National Institute of Health and Medical Research) reaffirming the availability of the Dôme for the planned pilot shows.

The scheme is reportedly still “stuck on the government side”

Last week, Le Parisien reported that the shows would instead take place on 29 April, although that is now looking unlikely with France in a four-week lockdown.

According to RTL, while organisers are keen to to get going (the pilot programme is being coordinated by industry association Prodiss), the scheme is currently “stuck on the government side”, with the ministry of culture proving “unreachable” amid the new lockdown measures.

Since announcing the test concerts, France has seen a number of high-profile festival cancellations, including the likes of Lollapalooza Paris, Les Vieilles Charrues, Hellfest and Les Eurockéennes, with most citing a cap on attendance of 5,000 seated guests as being responsible for the decision not to go ahead.

“[T]he government has hesitated too much since February and the epidemic situation has ignited,” writes RTL’s Jean-Mathieu Pernin. “As a result, these concerts still have not taken place, and the festivals are cancelling one after another.”

 


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Storm the Arena: LN France plans indoor metal fest

The Accor Arena in Paris will host Storm the Arena in December, the city’s first indoor metal festival and one of the first events of its kind this year.

The event will take place from 11 to 12 December at the 20,300-capacity arena, which will host a main stage and two side stages.

Between concerts from 14 French and international bands, there will be other kinds of performances, including burlesque shows, film screenings and “tattoo flash” sessions.

Merchandise including Storm the Arena CDs and vinyl will also be available.

A full line-up will be announced on 6 July.

The Accor Arena in Paris will host Storm the Arena in December, the city’s first indoor metal festival and one of the first events of its kind this year

A ban on events over 5,000 people remains in place in France until September, although concerts with fewer than 5,000 attendees will be permitted from 11 July, with Live Nation France’s Big Tour kicking off later that month.

French festivals including Hellfest, Eurockéennes de Belfort, Solidays, Festival d’Avignon, Main Square, Lollapalooza Paris and Rock en Seine have all been forced to cancel this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A special, Covid-safe Lollapalooza Paris is taking place in July, in conjunction with Parisian couture house Balmain, Michelin-starred French chef Jean Imbert and champagne brand Veuve Clicquot.

 


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2,000 attend concert at Accor Arena in Paris

Christine and the Queens was among acts to perform to a 2,000-strong, socially distanced crowd at the Accor Arena on Friday (19 June) to kick of the Fête de la Musique celebrations, which later saw some flout Covid-19 restrictions on the streets of Paris and other cities.

The free-to-attend concert, Tous ensembles pour la musique (All together for music), was the first to take place in the 20,000-capacity arena in Paris, which was formerly known as the Accorhotels Arena, after almost four months of silence.

The arena operated at a tenth of its usual capacity to maintain social distancing rules and all fans had to wear masks during the event, which saw performances from over 40 Francophone artists including LEJ, Benabar, Salvatore Adamo and Vianney and was broadcast live on France 2.

A few days later, music fans from all over France gathered in the streets to mark the official date of the annual Fête de la musique – known as Music Day in English – which sees concerts held in bars, cafes, squares and parks throughout the country on 21 June.

The French Ministry of Culture, which created the annual festival in 1982, had announced that this year’s celebration could go ahead provided that concerts only took place in pre-authorised locations; a distance of one metre be kept between individuals; and public gatherings did not exceed ten people.

Bar, cafe and restaurant owners wishing to host concerts were advised that doing so was their own responsibility and advised not to if “likely to lead to uncontrolled gatherings on the street”.

“We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful”

“I call on all those who are about to travel to be careful and responsible,” said culture minister Franck Riester before the event. “We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful.”

Despite the restrictions, images of the celebrations online have sparked criticism, showing large crowds gathering in many parts of France, most notably in Paris, without wearing masks or abiding by distancing measures.

In the city of Nantes, thousands also joined together to pay homage to Steve Maia Caniço, who disappeared following police intervention during last year’s festival.

Celebrations elsewhere in the country, as well as some in Paris, got underway in compliance with coronavirus restrictions. In the city of Rennes, home to Rencontres Trans Musicales, open-air concerts in undisclosed locations took place to avoid large gatherings, while a barge fitted with loudspeakers entertained locals in Strasbourg and musical floats appeared in the streets of Sète.

At the Institute of the Arab World in Paris, successive waves of 500 spectators took part in a series of karaoke sessions, seated around tables of ten, space out at intervals of three metres.

A number of virtual events also took place as part of this year’s festival, with DJ Jean-Michel Jarre performing as an avatar as part of a special, virtual-reality concert.

A ban on events over 5,000 people remains in place in France until September, although concerts with fewer than 5,000 attendees will be permitted from 11 July, with Live Nation France’s Big Tour kicking off later that month.

 


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