Study Shows “Very Low” Risk of Covid-19 Transmission at Indoor Concerts… But Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Yet
A new study in Germany, conducted by scientists from Halle University, has concluded that the risk of getting infected at live concerts “is very low” as long as certain precautions are taken.
Hold onto your hats before you get excited about returning to concerts soon, though, as there are some asterisks to consider and it’s important to understand how the study was conducted.
The concert used for the study took place at an arena in Leipzig that holds 2,400 people, with capacity for the show — featuring a performance by singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko — limited to half that amount. All attendees were given respiratory face masks, fluorescent hand gel to trace how they interacted with the environment, and transmitters to trace their movements for evaluation later. Scheduled bathroom breaks and simulated food and drink transactions were built into the study.
The researchers ran three separate scenarios featuring different social distancing seating formations and they used a fogger to track the circulation of air, piped in from the roof and aided by special jets, and potential exposure to another person’s infected aerosol droplets.
All of the above should give you pause about a so-called “return to normal.” Concerts at 50% capacity won’t be feasible for many venues and bands, the added cost of all of the additional safety measure may be cost-prohibitive, and not every venue has special air circulation systems or can afford to install them. What’s more, and closer to this website’s interests, social distancing will be difficult or impossible to maintain at a metal show where fans are used to crowding up front and moshing, with bands feeding off that energy.
Still, there is room for optimism as the study was largely considered to be successful. Data collected about crowd social distancing, movement patterns (from the trackers), interaction with the environment (from the flourescent hand sanitzer) and air flow can now be used to more definitively refine what works and what doesn’t.
“There is no argument for not having such a concert,” Dr. Michael Gekle, part of the research team, said in an interview. “The risk of getting infected is very low.”
Emily Eavis, co-organizer of the Glastonbury Festival, which typically draws 135,000 concertgoers, said, “Obviously if masks are going to work for larger gigs then that’s big progress. We are hoping for more news by the end of the year.”
You can read the full study, which has not been peer reviewed, right here.