In April and May, the U.K. government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) conducted a series of trial events to determine how much mass gatherings contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Preliminary data reportedly suggests that with prior testing, live events without social distancing or masks can be as safe as shopping or eating at a restaurant.
The Times cited a source with the U.K. government as having given the encouraging outlook. They said, “We are still waiting for the final bits of data but the results so far have been very encouraging…It will help make the case that these large events are not inherently more risky than other parts of the hospitality sector.”
“It shows that there are things that you can do to make these settings as safe as other daily activities,” they continued. “It is true that they are not going to be 100% safe but you can lower the risk to a reasonable level.”
The ERP events required attendees to take lateral flow tests beforehand and undergo a PCR test five days later. Among the gatherings were Circus’ two-day warehouse club night, the FA Cup Final, and the BRIT Awards – all in Liverpool. Festival Republic has also propose a 10,000 capacity camping test event for mid June.
The emergence of the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant, first identified in India, could nonetheless spell trouble for U.K. live events. Writing for ITV, Robert Peston cited another government source as having said that the chances of entering step four of reopening as planned on June 21st were “close to nil.”
The U.K. government may still impose region-specific lockdowns similar to the traffic light system introduced in October.