Events "no riskier than shopping", initial pilot data reveals
Initial findings from the Event Research Programme suggests events without masks and social distancing can be as safe as going to a restaurant or shopping centre, The Times has reported.
Live events were able to resume on 17 May with capacity restrictions and the requirement of familiar mitigations such as face coverings and social distancing, with the Government’s roadmap targeting a full lifting of restrictions on 21 June.
The paper has reported that preliminary data says that with pre-event screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors the risk of virus transmission can be “significantly reduced”. This suggests that some manner of ‘Covid-status certification’ may be needed from 21 June, at least on a temporary basis. This would mean anyone attending an event – or nightclub – would either need to present proof of vaccination, proof of a recent negative test, or proof of natural antibodies. The government is yet to make a final decision.
On 23 April, associations and organisers from across the entire events industry backed the idea of Covid-status certification so long as the government clarified that it would be only a temporary measure and did not add an extra cost burden to an already stretched industry.
The Times reported that a government source said the results from the trials had been “encouraging”, with further pilot events planned over the next month.
“We are still waiting for the final bits of data, but the results so far have been very encouraging,” the source told The Times.
“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.
“It is true that they are not going to be 100% safe, but you can lower the risk to a reasonable level.”
The pilot events that have already taken place have required all attendees to take a PCR test both before and after as they were not required to wear masks or practice social distancing. There have been no reported cases of surges in positive Covid tests that can be attributed to any of the pilot events.
The chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, is leading the review for Covid-status certification, and it is expected to be presented to prime minister Boris Johnson in mid-June.
While Covid-status certification is a possibility for event and nightclub attendance, it has been reported that no such requirement will be needed to enter pubs or restaurants.