Major Festival Organizer Outlines Plan to Bring Back Concerts at Full Capacity
Reading & Leeds festival organizer Melvin Benn has a plan that he says will allow major concerts to come back strong next year at full capacity without any social distancing measures or mask ordinances in place. His grand plan is… wait for it… mass testing. As if no one has thought of this before.
Speaking at a DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee) hearing on September 8, Melvin explained to U.K. parliament that concerts could return at full capacity without any limitations in place by “testing people before they arrive at the festival or event, and creating an environment where everybody in the space has been tested and have tested negative, and therefore are unable to transmit the virus to other people.” Those that are found to be carrying the virus would not be allowed to enter, he said, reference his Full Capacity Plan unveiled in June.
Melvin continued: “I have a plan for up to 600 locations around the UK where we could effectively test people the day before they arrive and the app would effectively give entry.”
My first concern with Benn’s plan is probably yours as well: what happens if someone contracts the coronavirus in the day between the test and the event? “The testing detects people that are asymptomatic so they would show up on the test,” he explains of that concern, “and the reality is that the data shows that people that have been tested cannot, even if they then contract the virus themselves immediately afterwards, cannot transmit the virus to others for a minimum of 72 of 96 hours – so that is part of that evidence.”
I’d also worry about the logistics. How will so many people (tens of thousands for a festival like Reading & Leeds) be tested in such a short period of time? Simply queuing up to enter these concerts can often take hours, so forget administering a medical test. Who would pay for this massive expense? What if results couldn’t be turned around quickly enough? The customer service nightmare of dealing with people who are found to be positive? And last but not least, accuracy: unfortunately these tests aren’t even close to 100% accurate yet.
Look, I’m as invested in getting concerts back to normal as anyone, both as a fan and from a business perspective (MetalSucks has lost significant advertising revenue from promoters during the pandemic), but this plan just doesn’t strike me as realistic. I’d certainly love to be proven wrong.