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Catalonia welcomes back three major festivals

Catalonia has hosted a triple whammy of festivals in the past fortnight, which will help determine the blueprint for how major events could take place in Spain going forward.

Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock took inspiration from 27 March’s Love of Lesbian test concert at the Palau Sant Jordi arena which they helped to organise, along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.

In line with the recommendations from the test concert, 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.

The festivals worked with the same medical partners behind the Love of Lesbian concert – the Germans Trias Hospital and Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation – and gained the approval of Catalonia’s Ministries of Health, Culture and Home Affairs.

Vida festival kicked off the week’s festivities with a three-day event in Vilanova de la Geltrú between 1–3 July that attracted a total of 27,200 attendees.

Typically, 30–40% of Vida’s line-up is international artists but this year the festival opted for an entirely domestic bill, with headline performances from Vetusta Morla, Nathy Peluso and Love of Lesbian.

“I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music”

Catalonia’s festival frenzy continued with Canet Rock on 3 July, held from 6 pm to nearly 6 am, with an audience of 22,200 people.

The Canet de Mar-based festival also opted for a domestic-only line-up, featuring Doctor Prats, Oques Grasses, and Itaca Band.

Cruïlla rounded off the week with more than 50,000 attendees at the Parc del Fórum (also home to Primavera Barcelona).

The three-dayer took place between 8–10 July and was the only festival that opted for an international bill which including the Irish indie band Two Door Cinema Club.

“We have the feeling of total success, we can feel proud and happy, and we can get our chest out. I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music,” says Jordi Herreula, Cruïlla.

“[Rapid Covid-19 screening] could become a solution that can be extended to the rest of society, however, the model is subject to improvements that we will outline in collaboration with the scientific community.”


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Road to recovery: A timeline of pilot projects

In August 2020, Germany paved the way for live music pilot projects with Restart-19, an experiment which saw thousands of volunteers to take part in a concert at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko.

Since then, similar experiments have popped up across the globe. From Spain to Singapore, test events with as few as 50 participants and as many as 5,000 have taken place to prove to authorities (and the world) that when it comes to safety and security, the live music industry knows what it’s doing.

Below is a timeline of the pilot projects that have taken place since late summer 2020 – all of which have proved, in one way or another, that the live entertainment sector can reopen safely under certain measures – as well as the tests that are on the horizon in 2021.

August 2020

When: 22 August 2020
Where: Quarterback Immobilien Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Who: University Medical Center of Halle
What they said: “[T]he contacts that do occur at an event do not involve all participants. Therefore, events could take place under specific conditions during a pandemic.”
Participants: 1,500

November 2020

Konzerthaus Dortmund (study)
When: 2–3, 20 November 2020
Where: Konzerthaus Dortmund, Germany
Who: Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute Goslar, ParteQ
What they said: “Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection. […] With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

December 2020

When: 12 December 2020
Where: Apolo, Barcelona, Spain
Who: Primavera Sound, Germans Trias Hospital, the Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation
What they said: “A live music concert, staged with a series of security measures that included a negative antigen test for Sars- CoV-2 done on the same day, was not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections.”
Participants: 1,047

Philharmonie de Paris (study)
When: 16 December 2020
Where: Philharmonie de Paris, France
Who: Dassault Systèmes
What they said: “The combination of face masks with a fresh-air supply built into every seat gives the indoor Philharmonie a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other.”

Back to Live (SG)
When: 18–19 December 2020 Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay, Singapore
Who: AEG Presents, Collective Minds
What they said: “[T]he outcome of such pilots will be critical to our ongoing efforts to allow events of a larger scale to resume in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Participants: 500

February 2021

Because Music Matters
When: 10–14 February
Where: Rockhal, Luxembourg
Who: Rockhal
What they said: “Building confidence among all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important.”
Participants: 100 per night

Back to Live (NL)
When: 15, 20, 21, 28 February & 6, 7, 20, 21 March 2021
Where: The Netherlands
Who: Fieldlab Evenementen
What they said: “We can now show that we can organise events in a very safe way. […] We hope this can lead to a tailor- made reopening of venues.”
Participants: Varies between events

March 2021

Love of Lesbian
When: 27 March 2021
Where: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona
Who: Festivals per la Cultura Segura
What they said: The event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed.
Participants: 5,000

The Berlin Philharmonic
When: 20 March 2021
Where: Chamber Music Hall, Berlin
Who: Pilotprojekt, Berlin department of culture
What they said: ‘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.’
Participants: 680

April 2021

Jonathan theatre performance
When: 26 April–9 May 2021
Where: Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS), Belgium
Who: KVS and Belgium’s Ministry of Culture
What they said: “An important observation is that the CO2 value and the relative humidity have barely increased. We saw the figure increase from 500 ppm to 600 ppm, while the maximum permitted value is 1200 ppm. This is of course only a first indication.”
Participants: 50–250

May 2021

Events Research Programme
When: April/May 2021
Where: Sefton Park and Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, Brit Awards in London, The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and more
Who: Festival Republic, Circus, BPI, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and more
What they said: “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts but will work flat out to make that happen.”
Participants: 300–21,000

TBC 2021

Denmark Trials
When: TBC 2021
Where: Denmark
Who: Dansk Live, Divisionsforeningen
What they said: “This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many great concert experiences across the country in 2021.”

Paris test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Accor Arena, Paris
Who: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, St Louis Hospital, Prodiss
Participants: 5,000

Marseille test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Dôme, Marseille
Who: The city of Marseille, Inserm, Béatrice Desgranges (Marsatac, SMA)
Participants: 1,000


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Spain pilot shows no impact on Covid-19 spread

Festivals per la Cultura Segura, the organiser of the recent pilot concert in Barcelona on 27 March, today announced that the event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed at the 5,000-person show.

Having analysed the data, doctors from the show’s medical partners (the Germans Trias Hospital and Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation), who observed the event, have 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.

Taking place at the 17,000-capacity Palau Sant Jordi Arena, the event saw popular local rock act Love of Lesbian perform to an audience of 4,994 fans, all of whom had tested negative for Covid-19 on the day (six people were turned away after testing positive). 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.

Compliance with the measures that were in place – such as the mask mandate, the three concert zones and a regulated flow of people around common areas such as bars and the toilets – was “scrupulous”, say organisers.

Of the 4,592 concert attendees who gave consent for the doctors to analyse Covid-19 tests taken after the event, six people tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of the show. All six cases had mild symptoms, or were asymptomatic, and no secondary transmission was observed; additionally, analysis suggests that four of the cases originated outside the concert.

“We will continue to work under the guidance of the scientific community to make further progress”

The six cases, say the scientists, represent a cumulative incidence (at 14 days after the show) of 130.7 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Compared to Barcelona as a whole, this is lower than the 259.5 cases/100,000 people in the city’s population at the time.

In a statement, Festivals per la Cultura Segura – comprising Primavera Sound, Sónar, Cruïlla, Canet Rock, TheProject and Vida Festival – say they view the experiment “very positively”, stating their intention to use the lessons of the Love of Lesbian show to push for the safe return of full-capacity live concerts.

“We will continue to work under the guidance of the scientific community in order to make further progress,” they say. “The aim is for this established model to generate new proposals within the framework of a strategic plan of pilot studies, such as the one carried out on 27 March at the Palau Sant Jordi.”

The Palau St Jordi show is the latest scientifically monitored pilot show to conclude concerts do not increase the rate of Covid-19 transmission, following similar events in Germany (Restart-19 in Leipzig and a test show at Dortmund’s Konzerthaus) and elsewhere in Barcelona (Primacov at Sala Apolo).

Watch the the event’s aftermovie, which includes on-the-day interviews with the organisers and fans (with English subtitles), below:

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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“Historic event” as 5,000 attend Spanish arena show

Nearly 5,000 thousand music fans attended a non-socially distanced concert at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi arena on Saturday (27 March) for the latest industry-run, government-backed ‘pilot’ concert designed to demonstrate how concerts may take place safely while the coronavirus is still a threat.

Organised by Festivals per la Cultura Segura (Festivals for Safe Culture), comprising festivals including Primavera Sound, Sónar and Cruïlla, the concert, by Spanish band Love of Lesbian, sold out quickly after going on sale earlier this month. In total, 4,994 people attended the show, after six ticketholders were found to have Covid-19 during the pre-gig tests.

The day of the concert began at 8am, when the first attendees arrived at the three Barcelona venues which were being used as Covid-19 test centres: Sala Apolo (which had hosted an earlier pilot concert), Sala Razzmatazz and Sala Luz de Gas.

All 5,000 fans passed through one of the three sites, which were staffed by more than 200 people in total, including medical professionals from local hospitals. Of the 5,000, 4,994 tested negative for the virus, while the six people who tested positive had their tickets refunded.

Fans getting tickets checked

The final tests finished at 4pm, with entry to the show open from 5pm. After gaining entry to the Palau St Jordi (using an app which contained both their ticket and negative test results), fans were given a medical-grade FPP2 mask to wear and shown to one of three pre-assigned areas set up in the arena.

Once inside, local heroes Love of Lesbian played the “greatest hits of their long career”, with concertgoers – seeing a show in a non-socially distanced format for the first time March 2020 – responding to the excitement of being part of “a historic event”, say organisers.

A video posted to the Palau St Jordi Twitter feed shows the thousands attendees dancing as Love of Lesbian perform on stage:

The concert marked a “great step forward”, says Festivals per la Cultura Segura, who hailed the event as an “example of the unity of the live music industry, the scientific community, the different administrations [the various Spanish governments] and committed sponsors”. The collective also thanked concertgoers for their cooperation and “civility”.

According to organisers, “conclusive data” from the concert will be available from 10 April, and will be released shortly after, following consultation with Catalonia’s ministry of health.

Love of Lesbian at Palau St Jordi

Speaking to the Catalan News Agency (ACN), Cruïlla director Jordi Herreruel said he hopes the show will demonstrate that festivals like his can take place safely this year.

“If the results confirm our theories, we will have the door open to the return of big events this summer,” he said. Previous pilot concerts, including the Sala Apolo study in Spain and two events in Germany (Restart-19 in Leipzig and a test show at Dortmund’s Konzerthaus), have demonstrated that live entertainment can take place safely in a pandemic situation.


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5,000-person Barcelona show with testing sells out

Spanish indie-pop band Love of Lesbian will play a non-socially distanced show for 5,000 fans at Barcelona’s Palau St Jordi arena later this month, following the success of earlier pilot concerts in Spain and across Europe.

Organised by Catalan government-backed initiative Festivals per la Cultura Segura (Festivals for Safe Culture), the show, set for 27 March at the city-owned Palau Sant Jordi (17,960-cap.), follows the Primacov trial in December, where no concertgoers were infected with Covid-19 during a controlled test show at Barcelona’s Apolo club.

Tickets for the Love of Lesbian gig, which were priced between €23 and €28, quickly sold out after going on sale last Friday (5 March). At the show, fans will be divided into standing zones of up to 1,800 people, with their own bar (buying drinks is allowed) and toilet facilities.

If successful, the show could establish a “new protocol for celebrating events in the current” situation

Other health measures include a temperature check on entry, restricting entry to 18–65-year-olds, placing hand sanitising gel throughout the venue, and monitoring attendees via their smartphones, both during and after the show, when public health authorities will use the data for contact tracing purposes.

If successful, the show could establish a “new protocol for celebrating events [safely] in the current” situation, according to Festivals per la Cultura Segura.

The initiative is being coordinated by Barcelona’s leading music festivals, including Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov show), Sónar, Cruïlla, Canet Rock, Vida Festival and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.


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