In a packed arena in Leipzig, 1,500 music fans have volunteered to be part of a rock concert science experiment to help scientists better understand the transmition of COVID-19 at large live events, and help create new safety measures for live events around the world.
The concert, by local singer Tim Bendzko, did feature fluorescent hand sanitiser and face masks, but fans were asked to wear digital location trackers for monitoring contact rates and distances between the participants, who sat together without social distancing.
To minimize the risk of real infection, all volunteers were tested for the virus before the experiment and had their temperature checked on arrival. The volunteers were then asked to simulate different concert scenarios and seating configurations over the course of 10 hours. Each iteration included music performances (of course) as well as breaks, during which participants simulated trips for snacks, drinks and toilet breaks.
Combining all the data gathered; from the proximity and interaction of the participants, as well as which surfaces were covered with the most fluorescent sanitiser at the end of the 10 hour day.
Until now, a varity of solutions have been explored – from fencing off small groups within events, the drive-thru model, as well as full PPR and temperature checks on arrival. But the hope is that this research will allow large scale events to return to venues as ‘normally’ as possible.
University of Halle researchers will now use data from the tracking devices to investigate how best to bring big live events back safely by determining which event elements pose the greatest risk for transmission and help create guidelines for mitigating such risks. Researchers hope to have results by the end of the year… so watch this space.