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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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Primavera Sound hails successful PRIMACOV trial

Organisers have hailed as a successful the PRIMACOV clinical trial, which took place at Barcelona’s Sala Apolo on Saturday (12 December) after a two-month delay.

Originally organised for October, PRIMACOV – organised by Primavera Sound in association with Hospital Germans Trias in Barcelona and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation – welcomed 1,042 people to the 1,608-capacity venue for a clinical study designed to show whether rapid testing could hold the key to staging concerts without social distancing.

Everyone who was allowed into the show, which featured performances by local artists including Marta Salicrú, Unai Muguruza, Mujeres and Renaldo and Clara, had had to first test negative for Covid-19 using rapid antigen tests – the results of which were available in 15 minutes – as well as traditional PCR tests.

“The objective of this study is to validate these kind of tests … to be able to carry out events without social distancing”

“That was, precisely, the objective of this study: to validate these kind of tests as an extremely useful tool to be able to carry out any type of event, whether musical or not, without social distancing,” explain the PRIMACOV team.

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.

The results of the PRIMACOV trial will be released in mid-January, according to Primavera Sound, although the festival warns that the results will only be completely accurate if all 1,042 attendees have a second PCR test, on Sunday 20 December.

PRIMACOV is part of Primavera’s Back on Track initiative, which is supported by Live Nation, Universal Music Group, Ticketmaster, Sony Music, promoter Last Tour and collection society SGAE, among others.

 


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Spain to host 1,000-cap pilot gig for clinical study

Following in the footsteps of Germany’s Restart-19 project, The Apolo hall in Barcelona will host a pilot concert with over 1,000 participants that will serve as a clinical study.

Organised by Primavera Sound, the Fight Against Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation, and the Germans Trias hospital in Barcelona for this October, the pilot will aim to establish the effectiveness of conducting rapid coronavirus tests at a live music event in a closed environment.

The study will require each attendee to undergo a rapid antigen test, which detects coronavirus in minutes, on the same day of the concert. 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, and use disinfectant gel. The day of the concert and the artist(s) who will perform have not yet been confirmed.

The pilot will aim to establish the effectiveness of conducting rapid tests at a live music event in a closed environment

Eight days after the concert, 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 objective of the study is to test different formulas that can guarantee the creation of a safe environment for the realisation of live events in closed spaces in times of Covid-19.

The Spanish pilot event is a smaller-scale version 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.

The results from Restart-19 will be revealed on the 22 October.

 


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Live DMA estimates €1.2bn loss for member venues

Live DMA, a European live music network comprising 16 member countries, has released a new report which estimates a €1.2 billion loss in audience income for the 2,600 music venues it represents.

The new report, which gives an overview on the impact of Covid-19 has had on its member venues, estimates that 664,000 artist performances will not take place in the venues, because 284,000 music events are cancelled or postponed this year.

This is only 30% (a 70% decline) of the number of music events and artist performances that took place last year.

Therefore, a 76% decline in audience visits is expected –53 million less compared to last year. This leads to the €1.2bn loss in audience income for the venues.

The loss in audience income consists of an estimated: €496m less income from ticket sales; €521m less income from food & beverages sales; €172m less other income.

Audience income makes up 84% of the €1.8 bn+ income the venues were expected to generate in 2020

According to Live DMA, audience income makes up 84% of the €1.8bn+ income the venues were expected to generate in 2020.

Among Live DMA’s worst affected venues are the 48% that have a private commercial structure. These venues and clubs lost almost 100% of their total income, which consists almost solely of income generated by their audiences (ticket sales, beverage, food, etc.).

According to the report, without this income source, the 1,250 venues and clubs cannot fulfil their financial obligations and are relying solely on their own reserves, cutbacks and financial support from governments to survive.

The full report can be viewed here.

Live DMA’s members include the Music Venue Trust (UK); Live Komm (Germany); Svensk Live (Sweden), and Dansk Live (Denmark).

 


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NTIA publishes return-to-live roadmap

Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and operators from the UK’s night-time industry have presented the government with a science-backed reopening plan in an attempt to stop the sector from collapsing.

Festival Republic and Music Venue Trust are among the organisations that have commissioned the report, supported by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, which examines the science behind Covid-19 and how to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Key findings from the report include: the core market for clubs and venues are amongst the lowest at risk in the hospitality sector and that that overall capacity restrictions to 75% of legal building occupancy based on regulations will ensure distancing is possible throughout the venue.

Now, the night-time industry is using the report to urge the government to provide a clear reopening plan for music venues, nightclubs, late-night bars and events spaces, as well as more financial support after the furlough scheme ends.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, says: “We have now reached a critical point. In the absence of a clear reopening strategy from government, or the promise of financial support, huge numbers of businesses within our industry are facing financial collapse and thousands of job losses.

“We implore the government to give us the opportunity to reopen in a safe, risk-assessed way”

“The report we have launched today clearly shows that there is a case for the safe reopening of night-time leisure venues, including nightclubs, late-night bars, live music venues and event spaces. Whilst many of these are large capacity venues, it is important to note that they already have many of the safety protocols in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

“We implore the government to give us the opportunity to reopen in a safe, risk-assessed way. Doing so will protect thousands of jobs, contribute to the struggling UK economy and ensure our towns and cities remain economically healthy and culturally vibrant.”

New research from the NTIA shows that almost 60% of night-time venues will not survive longer than two months without further government support, and more than 70% of night-time operators will be making more than half their workforce redundant from September, and 83% of night-time sector businesses will be making people redundant following the end of the Covid Job Retention Scheme.

However, the new report and roadmap highlight the plausibility of a safe return to night-time establishments. It says the safe operation of these venues can be assured by implementing a range of mitigating measures, many of which are already in place such as ID scans upon entry, contactless payment and sophisticated ventilation systems.

Socially distanced live indoor performances were permitted to resume in England from 15 August, but a number of industry bodies expressed scepticism about the economic viability of live music returning.

 


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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Singing “no riskier than talking” says Covid study

Singing is “no riskier than talking,” for the spread of coronavirus, according to a new study, supported by Public Health England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

However, the researchers, from the University of Bristol, says the risk of transmission may depend on how loud the singing is.

The study found that there is a steep rise in aerosol mass with an increase in the loudness of the singing and speaking, but singing does not produce much more more aerosol than speaking at a similar volume.

There is emerging evidence that coronavirus can be spread through aerosols, tiny particles which are exhaled from the body and float in the air, as well as in droplets which fall onto surfaces and are then touched.

Live musical performances have been cancelled for many months because singing was identified as a potential “higher risk” activity, however, this study could have implications for live indoor performances, which resumed in England this week.

Jonathan Reid, director of ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science and professor of physical chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, and a corresponding author on the paper, says: “The study has shown the transmission of viruses in small aerosol particles generated when someone sings or speaks are equally possible with both activities generating similar numbers of particles.

“Our research has provided a rigorous scientific basis for Covid-19 recommendations for arts venues to operate safely for both the performers and audience by ensuring that spaces are appropriately ventilated to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.”

“Our research has provided a rigorous scientific basis for Covid-19 recommendations for arts venues to operate safely”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says: “Singing and playing music are passions for many people who will welcome the findings of this important study, which shows that there are no heightened risks associated with these activities. This means people can get back to performing, another important step showing we are Here for Culture through Covid.

“We have worked closely with medical experts throughout this crisis to develop our understanding of the virus, and our guidance is updated in light of these findings today.”

This is the first study to look at the amounts of aerosols and droplets generated by a large group of 25 professional performers completing a range of exercises including breathing, speaking, coughing, and singing.

There were no significant differences in aerosol production between genders or among different genres (choral, musical theatre, opera, choral, jazz, gospel, rock and pop).

The experiments were carried out in an environment of “zero aerosol background”, which allowed the team to unambiguously identify the aerosols produced from specific vocalisations.

The study is yet to be peer-reviewed.

 


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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