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Just 28 Covid cases linked to Phase I of pilot event programme

The full Events Research Programme (ERP) report with findings from Phase I recorded only 28 Covid-19 cases from the nine pilot events.

The report was commissioned by the Government in February 2021 and has finally been published following mounting pressure from industry professionals and MPs.

However, the Government has said it will not make any conclusive recommendations on the reopening of events at this stage.

The Events Research Programme saw 58,000 participants attend one of nine indoor and outdoor pilot events at venues across England, including Liverpool, Sheffield and London through April and May. Attendees were not required to wear masks or social distance. However, a negative Covid test was compulsory to gain entry.

The report found “no substantial outbreaks” from any of the events, with only 28 Covid cases linked to the pilot events.

Of these 28 cases, only 11 were identified as “potentially infectious at an event”, while the other 17 were recorded as “potentially infected at or around the time of an event”, the report stated.

A breakdown of infections at events:

Indoor events including Circus nightclub, which hosted nearly 7,000 people over two nights, saw 10 cases recorded. The World Snooker Championship saw six cases recorded from more than 10,000 attendees over 17 days. The BRIT Awards, which saw 3,500 people attend the event at London’s O2 Arena, recorded no cases.

It was also reported earlier this month that Liverpool’s business pilot event, Change Business for Good event, part of the ERP, saw no Covid-19 transmissions.

Disappointingly for the events industry, however, the report stated the Government will “not make conclusive public health recommendations on the reopening of events at this stage”.

The Government has instead said it will provide guidance for the events industry ahead of Step 4 in the roadmap.

“The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to Step 4 of the roadmap,” culture secretary Oliver Dowden said.

Following the lack of guidance, Sacha Lord co-creator of the Parklife festival and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester tweeted his grievance with the ongoing lack of support for the live events industry.

“On the back of today’s report, I again urge to Government to announce Event Indemnity Insurance, in line with many other countries. You’ve got artists and freelancers who’ve had no income since March 2020. A huge supply chain about to go bust. Time is of the essence. Act now.”

The key findings from the report:

  • Both indoor and outdoor events carry levels of transmission risk but ‘pinch points’ in venues where attendees may congregate for extended periods carry greater transmission risk
  • Large indoor events with high crowd density and proximity may pose a higher potential risk of transmission as a result of close proximity and poor ventilation.
  • Mitigations such as face coverings, ventilation, testing, restrictions on food and drink, and social distancing/capacity caps all contributed to reducing transmission risk.
  • Compliance with social distancing, face-covering and testing requirements was generally high across all events where they were required (96.2 per cent) of people in sampled areas were observed wearing face coverings correctly while seated during the event), particularly in indoor environments (98.3 per cent) in comparison to events conducted outdoors or with a substantial open-air element (92.1 per cent).
  • Low uptake of PCR testing before and after events meant evidence of direct transmission at events was challenging to determine.
  • Nearly all CO2 levels recorded at the pilot events were within the bounds of reasonable ventilation benchmarks** with outdoor spaces clearly better for ventilation than indoors.

Next phases of Events Research Programme:

The second phase of pilot events has already concluded with the group stage UEFA EURO 2020 matches hosted at Wembley Stadium, the Download Pilot music festival, the England v New Zealand test match at Edgbaston and Royal Ascot having taken place this month. Research into the events is still being gathered and analysed by the ERP science team.

The third phase of the ERP will include Wimbledon Championships, The Open Championship, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Home and Gift 2021, Rugby League’s Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup Finals, Latitude and the Grange Opera Festival. Further events will be added in due course.

Read the full report on the findings from Phase 1 of the Events Research Programme here.

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