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Results from Spain’s festival study published

The Catalan government says it has gleaned “valuable information” about how major events could take place in the future from a study of three festivals that took place in early July.

The three festivals – Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock – went ahead using recommendations from the Love of Lesbian test concert which they co-organised along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.

All three festivals took place without social distancing and with attendees wearing mandatory FFP2 masks. Entry to the festivals was dependent on a negative result from a Covid-19 rapid test.

Despite finding a high number of infections among concertgoers, the department of culture says its study will prove highly beneficial when it comes to improving protocols and security measures for festivals.

The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19 – 76% more than the cases recorded in a control group.

The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19

The nearly 50,000 people who attended the events were compared to a control group with the same breakdown of age, sex, residence and immunity during the days the events took place.

The study found that 466 attendees of Vida, 956 of Canet Rock and 857 of Cruïlla tested positive for the coronavirus in the two weeks following the concerts.

In the control group, the number of cases detected on the same dates of the events was 197, 525 and 571, respectively.

The study expected that a maximum of 1,437 infections would be recorded after the festivals, but this was exceeded by 842, bringing the total number of cases to 2,279.

The government says a small percentage of the festivalgoers – 271 people – attended one of the events despite testing positive for the coronavirus beforehand, though it’s unclear how they were admitted.

The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid

The secretary of public health, Carmen Cabezas, defended the number of infections, explaining that in early July – and in a context of 8,000 cases a day – the festivals “were just one more factor among all those that occurred at that moment”.

In early July, Catalonia was grappling with the fifth coronavirus wave and contagion rates were already at high-risk levels.

The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid.

Currently, in Catalonia, concerts are allowed to take place with up to 1,000 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors or indoor spaces with enhanced ventilation, access control and prior seat allocation.

 


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International test events underline concert safety

As businesses and individuals in the UK come to terms with the government’s decision to delay the sector’s reopening by a further four weeks, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that concerts, festivals and other live events held under controlled conditions do not contribute to an increase in transmission of Covid-19.

Data gathered from test events across various European countries is building a picture that if every member of the audience is tested prior to a show, and only those who return a negative test are admitted, the chances of them being infected with Covid-19 during the show are extremely slim.

Crucially, despite the pilot shows listed below using different audience configurations, all of them tested participants before and after the event, and all were hailed as successful both by organisers and by the scientists who monitored the health aspects.

Examining the published evidence of different test events around Europe makes for fascinating reading, albeit with very similar results…

Belgium
Zero positive cases of Covid-19 were detected seven days after test events in Spa and Namur, neither among the participants nor the control group, the company in charge of testing at the shows, DNAlytics, announced in May.

Those events were the first of six pilot experiments organised in the cultural sector by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. “In the case of Spa, they establish quantitatively that the organisation of an indoor concert can be envisaged with safety, according to an audience size of 50% of the hall’s capacity and by applying the barrier gestures that have become familiar to us,” says Thibault Helleputte, CEO of DNAlytics.

“In the case of Namur [an outdoor event], the results show that, provided some basic health rules are followed, attendance at a show is not associated with a measurable increase in coronavirus contamination.”

“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection”

Germany
A scientific study in Germany of the movement of airborne particles in an indoor environment showed a negligible risk of infection in properly ventilated concert venues.

The test, using a robot, at Dortmund’s 1,500-seat Konzerthaus, was carried out over three days in November by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute of Goslar and particle measurement company Parte Q, with the backing of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency. It followed August’s Restart-19 study (using human participants) by the University Hospital of Halle, which concluded that, with adequate ventilation, live events posed a “low to very low” risk of person-to-person transmission.

“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection,” says Dr Raphael von Hoensbroech, director of Konzerthaus Dortmund. “The past few months have shown that politics needs a scientifically sound basis for decision-making. With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

The Konzerthaus Dortmund study followed the first pilot show, the similarly successful Restart-19 in Leipzig, in August 2020, which provided the template for subsequent events internationally.

In Barcelona, the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk

Spain
Festivals per la Cultura Segura, the organiser of a Barcelona pilot concert in March, also reported that the event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed at the show, which had 5,000 attendees.

Having analysed the data, doctors from the show’s medical partners concluded that the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk – with concertgoers exhibiting a lower incidence of Covid-19 than the general population in Barcelona at the time.

While the use of a medical-grade FFP2 mask was mandatory, there was no social distancing among fans, who were separated into three areas, once the show got underway.

Of the 4,592 concert attendees who gave consent for the doctors to analyse Covid-19 tests taken after the event, six tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of the Barcelona show (and additional analysis suggests that four of the cases originated outside the concert). Those six represented a cumulative incidence of 130.7 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants, far lower than the 259.5 cases/100,000 people in the city’s population at the time.

Three months’ worth of pilots in the Netherlands proved the risk of infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home

Netherlands
Perhaps most compelling are the findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands which proved that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.

Organiser Fieldlab Evenementen included a series of events in its programme, including the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam which was attended by 3,500 fans, but also business conferences, festivals, arena shows, an awards ceremony and outdoor sports events in a range of formats and capacities.

According to Fieldlab’s data, 100%-capacity events are possible under the Netherlands’ lower two risk levels (caution and concern), with a reduction in capacity necessary for levels three and four (serious and severe, respectively).

Fieldlab’s Dimitri Bonthuis says, “Provided you take the right measures, the risk of getting infected at a Fieldlab event is the same as at home.”

Just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people at UK pilots

United Kingdom
British culture secretary Oliver Dowden described recent UK pilot shows as “a real success”, noting that just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people during recent pilot events.

On the back of those figures, Dowden said he was “very hopeful” the full reopening of venues, theatres and clubs without social distancing would take place on the target date of 21 June, though this didn’t come to pass.

While the ERP has yet to be released, Dowden has confirmed there were no positive cases from the Brit Awards, which took place with an audience of 4,000 at the O2 in London last month.

There were two positive Covid-19 tests from the ERP’s Sefton Park Pilot, in Liverpool, which involved 5,000 fans, while nine cases were detected among the 6,000 clubbers who attended two dance events, also in Liverpool.

Zero cases were reported from a football match at Wembley, but four infections were detected at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which hosted 17 days of the World Snooker Championship.

No social distancing was in place at any of the ERP events, which used lateral-flow tests to check attendees for the coronavirus prior to entry.

 


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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Risk of infection significantly lower in venues, says study

The risk of Covid-19 infection is significantly lower in cultural places than in schools, offices or retail shops, according to a new study conducted by the Technical University of Berlin.

The study used an infection risk model, developed by Martin Kriegel, ventilation expert and head of the Hermann Rietschel Institute at the university, along with the Robert Koch Institute and the Berlin Charité, to examine the risk of infection in closed spaces.

The results showed that if ventilation, social distancing and hygiene measures are observed, a theatre, an opera or a museum with 30% occupancy has the lowest risk of infection of all the closed spaces that were examined.

In schools, for example, even if a classroom is only half occupied and the students wear a mask, the risk is still almost six times higher than in a theatre hall which is at 30% capacity.

A certain amount of virus-free air per person and per hour spent in the rooms is needed in order to minimise the risk of infection

The highest risk of exposure was found in high school lessons with full seating capacity without a mask being required. In this situation, it is 23 times more likely for those involved to become infected than for masked visitors at a 30% occupied cultural space.

In a multi-person office which has 20% occupancy, and in which the workers are masked, the predicted risk of infection is three times higher than in the aforementioned cultural site.

While the risk of infection is twice as high in the supermarket – even if everyone complies with the mask requirement – than in a cultural space at 30% occupancy.

Kriegel says that one of the study’s key findings is that a certain amount of virus-free air per person and per hour spent in the rooms is needed in order to minimise the risk of infection.

The findings from the Technical University of Berlin’s study are in line with multiple clinical trials which have found little risk of an infected person transmitting Covid-19 in an indoor concert venue, including Spain’s Primacov and two German trials – Restart-19 and Konzerthaus Dortmund.

 


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Danish live industry to hold series of test events

Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, has been granted permission to hold a series of test events utilising rapid testing to find out whether large-scale events can safely take place without social distancing.

Organised in conjunction with the Divisional [Football] Association, the three-part series will trial the efficacy of rapid testing at a football match, a concert/conference, and a festival.

The football model is the first to be trialled and will take place during a series of non-socially distanced 3F Superliga matches this year, testing 30,000 participants.

Attendees will be tested with both an antigen test (rapid test) and a PCR test (laboratory test). Entry will depend on a negative result. A PCR test is followed up six days after the match day to determine the efficacy of rapid testing and the minimised distance.

Organisers say the concert/conference model will take place indoors but will otherwise be identical to the football model while the festival model will focus on ‘simulating situations with participants who are moving among each other’. Steps two and three will await the results of step one and more details on each will be revealed at a later date.

Esben Marcher, Dansk Live, hopes these test events may pave the way for increased capacity at festivals and venues this year: “We have worked hard for a long time to create a solid basis for the implementation of the Danish festivals and concerts in 2021. We are completely convinced that we, together with the Divisional Association, have found a viable model. Therefore, we are very happy to have received scientific support so that we can continue our plans and complete the project. It should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many good concert experiences throughout the country in 2021.”

“This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many good concert experiences throughout the country in 2021”

Lars Ramme Nielsen, head of tourism and experience economics at the Danish Chamber of Commerce, says: “If our study shows the intended effect, it will benefit across many cultural and experience industries, including major sporting events, concert, theatre and festival activities as well as conferences and seminars. At the same time, it will help to spread the testing in Denmark to people who might not otherwise have been tested – especially people without symptoms.”

Professor and chief physician at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital, Lars Østergaard, who is a contributor to the project, says: “If the events we are setting up in a number of stadiums turn out to be justifiable, then you have a basis to work from.”

A similar government-backed test series, dubbed ‘Back to Live’, is due to take place in the Netherlands this month, following on from last year’s pilot events in Germany and Spain.

Germany’s Restart-19 found that live shows could take place safely under “specific conditions during a pandemic” and Spain’s PRIMACOV trial found that a live music concert performed under a series of safety measures is ‘not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections’.

 


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PRIMACOV: Results of Spanish clinical trial published

Spain’s PRIMACOV clinical trial found that a live music concert performed under a series of safety measures, including a negative antigen test, is ‘not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections’.

The study – organised by Primavera Sound in association with Hospital Germans Trias in Barcelona and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation – involved a concert at Barcelona’s Sala Apolo (cap. 1,608) on 12 December to show whether rapid testing could hold the key to staging concerts without social distancing.

The study achieved its primary endpoint after organisers found that none of the 463 participants that were randomly selected to enter the concert were infected with Covid-19 during the trial.

One of the researchers involved, Boris Revollo, believes that the list of conditions included in the study could be easily reproduced for other events.

All 1,047 participants – which were between 18-59 years old, had no comorbidities, were not living with old household contacts, and had not been diagnosed with Covid-19 during the 14 days preceding – were screened before the concert and had a negative antigen result.

Of them, 463 were randomly selected to enter the concert and 496 remained in the control group with no access to the concert venue and completed the follow-up visit.

Boris Revollo believes that the list of conditions included in the study could be easily reproduced for other events

The 463 granted entry were given a certified N95 cloth mask at the venue entrance, which they were required to wear during the entire event, except when drinking.

No physical distancing was required in the concert room, where singing and dancing was permitted as well.

All airflows and room ventilation were optimised in the two indoor rooms and air exchange was monitored throughout the entire event.

The flow movement of all the participants inside the venue was previously defined and marked, clearly delimited, and observed by the security crew during the event. Measures were implemented to avoid queues in toilets, entries and exits.

The concert, spanning five hours, included two DJ sessions and two live music performances with local artists Marta Salicrú, Unai Muguruza, Mujeres and Renaldo and Clara.

The show followed a similar trial in Germany, dubbed Restart-19, which found that live shows could take place safely under “specific conditions during a pandemic”. Several ‘Back to Live’ pilot events will also take place in the Netherlands, with the government’s backing, in January.

 


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Spain to go ahead with pilot gig for clinical study

The Apolo hall in Barcelona will host a clinical study concert with more than 1,000 participants to determine whether concerts and nightlife can be safe spaces if certain measures are met, including screening attendees with Covid-detection tests.

The pilot gig, which was originally scheduled for October but was cancelled due to the second wave of coronavirus, will now take place on 12 December featuring DJs and bands including Marta Salicrú, Unai Muguruza, Renaldo & Clara and Mujeres.

The study expects to host more than 1,000 volunteers who will undergo a rapid antigen test, which detects coronavirus in minutes, on 11 and 12 December. Only those with negative test results will be permitted to attend the gig.

Then, before the doors of the venue are opened, a PCR test will also be carried out on half of the participants to evaluate the effectiveness of rapid tests as a screening strategy in large events.

During the concert, participants will have to wear a protective mask at all times, except when consuming beverages in designated areas, and use disinfectant gel.

The clinical study will determine whether concerts and nightlife can be safe spaces if certain measures are met

A week after the concert, on 20 December, a second rapid antigen test will be carried out on all attendees and a new PCR will be carried out on the participants who have already been tested on the day of the event.

The clinical trial is organised by Primavera Sound, the Fight Against Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation, and the Germans Trias hospital in Barcelona.

The Spanish study follows in the footsteps of Germany’s Restart-19, which saw 1,500 volunteers spent ten hours inside Arena Leipzig on 22 August as part of a scientific experiment that aimed to show how coronavirus travels at indoor events.

The study comprised three concerts by singer Tim Bendzko: one with no social distancing at all, pre-coronavirus style; one with “optimised hygiene measures”, such as more entrances/exits and some distance between concertgoers; and one with full social distancing, with attendees seated 1.5 metres apart.

Key findings from the experiment showed that events “could take place in a pandemic”.

 


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