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No infections at multi-venue pilot in Leipzig

There were zero Covid-19 infections during a pilot event series held across nine venues in Leipzig in May and June, organisers announced today.

Comprising 17 events, ranging from club nights to cabaret and children’s shows, Modellprojekt Kultur/Reallabor Leipzig (Model Project [for] Culture/Real Laboratory Leipzig) was held between 26 May and 27 June and involved over 1,000 participants.

All events were held without face masks and social distancing, though all guests were tested for Covid-19 prior to entry, as well as after the shows. As of a week after the final event, no cases of Covid-19 had been detected by researchers from Leipzig University Hospital, the Max Planck Institute of Leipzig and Klinik St Georg, the series’ medical partners.

Participating venues included Academixer, Cammerspiele, Die Villa, Distillery, Kulturhof Gohlis, Moritzbastei, Schauspiel Leipzig, Thomanerchor/Thomaskirche und Werk 2.

A total of 400 people attended two of the 18 events, a two-night club event held at Distillery, with two people turned away beforehand after testing positive for the virus.

“The ball is now in the politicians’ court”

The Modellprojekt followers earlier pilot shows held in Leipzig, including the Restart-19 concert, the first major pilot event, which served as a model for other ‘test’ concerts internationally.

“We are pleased with the positive progress of Modellprojekt Kultur/Reallabor Leipzig,” says project coordinator Tobias Loy in a release. “We have gained insights into how a wide range of cultural events can be held easily and safely. The fact that we were even able to show how dance events can work safely without a mask and distance was an important step.

“The ball is now in the politicians’ court. The concepts are available and tested. Now these must also be permitted for normal event operations.”

Dr Stephan Borte from Klinik St Georg says pre-event testing will allow live events to go ahead safely this autumn and winter. “Similar projects are also feasible in schools and daycare centres and should be used instead of closing [them],” he adds.

Steffen Kache, board member of LiveMusikKommission and another coordinator of the project, adds: “For us club operators, this model project shows a way to keep operations going even in a pandemic. […] It gives the entire culture industry a perspective and scope for action.”


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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Restart-19: “Heroes” simulate Covid-19 spread at test show

The scientists behind the Restart-19 project, who invited thousands of volunteers to take part in three experimental concerts in Germany on Saturday, say the study should provide valuable data about the Covid-19 infection risks posed by large indoor events.

Fifteen hundred people took part in the experiment, held at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena (12,200-cap.) in Leipzig on 22 August as part of Restart-19, a partially publicly funded research project run by the University Hospital in Halle (Universitätsmedizin, UKH).

As IQ reported in July, 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.

“We are very satisfied. The data acquisition went very well”

While the UKH team initially planned for the experiment to involve 4,000 people, data from the 1,500 volunteers – each of whom was equipped with a tracker device – provided enough information to “work with very well”, says Restart-19 head Dr Stefan Moritz.

For all three scenarios, which took place over ten hours, attendees (who were tested for Covid-19 in advance, and had their temperatures checked prior to entry) were asked to wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser containing fluorescent dye. The dye-laced disinfectant then marked “high-touch” areas when the audience simulated going to the loo or visiting F&B vendors between shows, as requested by Moritz’s team.

“We are very satisfied,” he said on Saturday. “The data acquisition went very well, so we have good quality data; the mood is great; and we are extremely please with how disciplined people have been in wearing the mask and using the [hand] disinfectant.”

Tim Bendzko, Restart-19, Arena Leipzig

Other tests included the use smoke machines to reproduce the spread of aerosols in an indoor arena environment (it is believed the coronavirus can survive in the air for up to three hours) and the simulation of public transport traffic to and from the venue.

“We are excited to see what will come of the study,” says Matthias Kölmel, managing director of arena operator ZSL Betreibergesellschaft, who nevertheless emphasises that “this is not a panacaea.”

In Saxony, of which Leipzig is the most populous city, events of up to 1,000 people are currently permitted with social distancing. In Germany as a whole, a federal ban on non-distanced large-scale gatherings is in place until at least November.

Social distancing (scenario three), Restart-19, Arena Leipzig

Bendzko says he hopes the Restart-19 show can help speed along the return of “real concerts”, for the sake of Germany’s love music industry.

“I hope that the results will help us to play real concerts in front of an audience again soon,” he says, adding that the vast majority of people involved in music and events work in the background, rather than on stage. “We are approaching a major disaster here and we urgently need to find solutions.”

Karsten Günther of SC DHfK Handball, which plays in the arena, pays tribute to the 1,500 people who gave up their Saturdays to be part of the experiment. “[They stood] in the pouring rain outside the venue, waiting to be admitted, then spent ten hours with us during the day, going in and out three times in the heat of the midsummer,” he says. “These are our heroes.”


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Concert simulations used to restart events in Germany

German scientists are teaming up with singer Tim Bendzko to launch a series of concert simulations and investigate how to prevent Covid-19 from spreading at large events.

Restart-19, which has received €990,000 in funding from the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, where the country’s first standing post-Covid concerts were trialled last week, will see a series of event simulations take place at the 12,000-capacity Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig on 22 August.

The project is run by the University Medical Centre Halle (Saale) in conjunction with arena operator ZSL mbH and SC DHfK Leipzig handball team, with the aim of identifying a framework for how larger cultural and sports events could be held without posing a danger for the population after Germany’s ban on large-scale events expires.

Bendzko will perform at the arena to those who volunteer to take part in the simulations, in order to reproduce the behaviour of concertgoers as realistically as possible.

The simulations will replicate one event with 4,000 attendees, entering through two main entrances and sitting as prior to the pandemic; one with 4,000 participants with optimised hygiene measures, more entrances and larger distances between participants; and one with 2,000 attendees, who will be seated 1.5 metres apart.

German scientists are launching a series of concert simulations to investigate how to prevent Covid-19 from spreading at large events

All participants will by tested for Covid-19 before taking part and masks and hand sanitisers will be used during the simulations.

Participants will wear a small contact-tracing device during the concert simulations which will transmit a signal every five seconds to record proximity with other individuals, as well as the duration and frequency of contact with others.

The ‘concertgoers’ will also be asked to use a fluorescent hand sanitiser on entry, allowing scientists to use UV lights after the events to identify surfaces where transmission is most likely to occur.

Public transport to and from the venue will also be simulated and tracked as part of the research.

“The coronavirus pandemic is paralysing the events industry,” says Saxony-Anhalt minister of economics and science Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann.

“As long as infection threatens, neither large concerts and trade fairs, or sporting events can take place. That is why it is so important to find out what technical or organisational framework conditions can effectively minimise the risk of infection.

“With Restart-19 the University Medical Centre Halle is pioneering work for a new start of the events industry in Central Germany and beyond.”

More information about the experiment and how to take part is available here.


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.