5,000 People Attended a Covid-19 Live Show Experiment
Can live concerts safely return at full capacity through the use of Covid-19 rapid tests before entry and mandatory mask wearing once inside? A study in Barcelona this past weekend sought to answer that question, and the initial results are promising.
Back in December, researchers staged a concert hosting 500 audience members with the above safety measures in place but no social distancing, and found that pre-screening with antigen tests and the use of face masks were successful measures in preventing the spread of Covid-19. This time around they set their sights on ten times that amount of attendees to see if the mitigation measures can work at a greater scale.
Fans of the band Love of Lesbian paid €23-€28 for tickets to the concert (approximately $27-$33), and that cost included a high-quality face mask and the cost of a rapid (antigen) Covid-19 test. They were required to take the test at one of three locations Saturday morning, and then were notified of the results via an app later that day. People with heart disease, cancer, or those who had been in contact with someone infected by Covid-19 in recent weeks were asked not to sign up. The team conducting the study will work with public health authorities in the coming weeks to identify any concertgoers who come down with Covid-19, and will then release the results of the experiment.
If the study is considered to be successful — that is, if infection rates among attendees don’t differ significantly from those in the general public — rapid testing and mask wearing could be an effective way of bringing live music back without having to enforce social distancing. Coupled with “vaccine passport” apps like the Excelsior program in New York State, such mitigation measures could expedite the process of safely bringing back live music at scale.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, said this winter that he expects live concerts to return at some point in fall 2021.