- 19 Jul 21
The study, looking to assess the Covid safety measures of large music festivals, was conducted in the Serbian city of Novi Sad over the past fortnight.
As each country takes steps to allow mass gatherings to resume, controlled test events are taking place this summer. Research of the Exit festival, which concluded last weekend, was organised by Novi Sad's Health Centre. The assessment measured the simultaneous impact of the spread of Covid-19 and the security protocol of the music festival.
"In order to examine the risk of contracting a new Coronavirus during a visit to a mass event, in the situation where all preventive measures have been applied, and when all visitors were required to be fully vaccinated or have a negative test for Coronavirus, it was decided that during Exit Festival would be conducted a scientific study, thus using a unique opportunity to gain new scientific knowledge about the virus," says head of research Marija Milić MD.
The 345 visitors to Exit were divided into two groups; those who were vaccinated and those who entered the festival with a negative test. Everyone was tested before entering the festival (from July 8 to 10). From these tests, only one person was found to be positive. They were not allowed to enter the festival. The testing was then repeated after seven days (from July 15 to 17) and the results found no-one in either group tested positive.
As well as this, access restriction measures at Exit Festival were applied rigorously. 16,100 checks of visitors with a Digital Green Certificate were carried out. Of this figure, 95% had been vaccinated. For all those who did not have a valid Digital Green Certificate, free testing was organized. In five days, 18,336 people were tested, and only 0.05% of those tested positive. Those who tested positive were removed from the festival grounds.
10 days after the start of the festival, there was no significant deterioration of the epidemiological situation in wider Novi Sad. The daily statistics of the virus in the period from 8 to 19 July in the city did not differ from the averages in the rest of the country.
"With [such] rigorous entry control, these research results were expected. It will take some time to get the final analysis results, but it can already be said, both based on research and the daily number of newly infected people in Novi Sad, that the Exit Festival was not a place of mass infection with the virus," said the director of the Novi Sad Health Centre, Veselin Bojat.
The research at Exit Festival was said to be among the first to be done on a mass music event attended by tens of thousands of people. These results are expected to be one of the key arguments in the struggle to bring back major events worldwide.
"[This research] proves that even during a pandemic, a means and a model can be found according to which even the largest events can take place completely safely," said the founder and director of the Exit Festival, Dušan Kovačević. "This research is our contribution to the struggle of the entire music industry."
As our our music festivals here in Ireland cautiously get up and running over the course of the summer, large research projects such as this one will be helpful in the case for the full return of live music.