Primavera Sound recently held a test case of trying to do a live event in a safe and somewhat practical way. The results have been released and they are promising. The study sought to prove that it was possible to host indoor music events safely without leading to a rise of COVID cases and social distancing, which can be impossible for clubs and other venues financially.
They had 1,047 participants who tested negative for COVID-19 in the two weeks before the event and then took a rapid antigen test the day of. They had to test negative with those as well. All the participants were ages 18-59, had no comorbidities and were not living with old household contacts. The study then randomly split the group in two – a control group of 496 that was sent home and then an experimental group of 463 who got to see a concert. The concert took place on December 12 at the Apolo in Barcelona. The concert hall has a capacity of 900 people, so it was more then half full.
The members of experiment group were given N95 masks that they had to wear for the duration of the 5-hour concert, except for drinking. Numbers were limited for the bar and smoking area. Dancing and singing was permitted, plus social distancing wasn’t needed. The median time people spent inside the concert space was two hours and forty minutes.
After eight days, all participants had to get a PCR swab and there were 0 infections with the group who attended the concert. Two were infected in the control group.
“Therefore, attending 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,” says the study.
The study was performed by the Foundation against AIDS and Infectious Diseases of the University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in Barcelona, and was funded by Primavera Sound. A whole bunch of other sponsors included government entities and major promoters.
This does show promise that shows can happen safely during the pandemic. It will require people to get tested multiple times and wear masks during the event, which can be difficult to enforce, especially in crowded spaces when they are drinking. Could promoters set maximum ages on ticket sales? Could they not allow people who live with older folks to attend? There will be a lot of questions to answer. Despite this, there is some hope for promoters who want to try this out and punters who are willing to jump through these hoops and pay the extra costs of the tests because it will be a pricey concert.