- 23 Aug 21
Data across all Event Research Programme (ERP) phases show cases observed in and around events were in line with, or below, community prevalence.
New government data has found that Covid cases linked to the UK's Event Research Programme (ERP) were “largely in line with or below community infection rate”.
The results show that mass gatherings can go ahead "safely", but the UK government still urge "caution".
Thirty-seven pilot events took place over the course of a four-month period to determine the safety of large-scale gatherings post-COVID lockdown. Blossoms’ Liverpool show, the BRIT Awards ceremony, Download Festival and Latitude festival were all included in the programme.
Data from NHS Test and Trace published on August 20th “shows that mass participation events can be conducted safely”, although it urges caution around “specific aspects of event participation”. The results take into account all three phases of the ERP.
The results reveal that “case numbers were largely in line with or below community infection rates for the duration of the programme”, but warn against the potential risks involved in attending “unstructured events”. This also includes travelling to and from events, and mixing indoors before, during and after events.
July's Latitude and Tramlines festivals have been linked to a higher number of Covid cases (over 1,000 per event) through NHS Test and Trace data than were associated with the Grand Prix (585 cases) and Wimbledon (881) pilots. However, it should be taken into account that these festivals took place after all remaining social restrictions were lifted in England on July 19th, when community prevalence rates were higher.
Data for the EURO 2020 final shows that 2,295 people in or around the stadium were likely to have been infectious at the time of the event, with an additional 3,404 people in and around the stadium potentially acquiring infection around the time of the event.
“We’ve shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said of the findings.
“So that we can keep the football season, theatres and gigs safe with full crowds this winter, I urge sport, music and culture fans to get the vaccine as this is the safest way we can get big events firing on all cylinders once more.”
“Data is our greatest weapon in the fight against the pandemic, and these pilots inform our approach to mass events, now and in the future," Health Minister Lord Bethell continued.
“These events and the passion of supporters brought joy to millions of people across the country. But the reports make it clear that they also reinforce the need for us to not let our guard down.”
He added: “We all need to comply with the advice accompanying major events to keep everyone safe and so everyone can safely enjoy these important occasions. We can all keep doing our bit by getting tested regularly and getting the vaccine.”
Those attending the Event Research Programme pilots were required to provide either a negative lateral flow coronavirus test, proof of double vaccination or natural immunity before entering.
Additional reporting from Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Events Research Programme is continuing to be compiled and will be published “in due course”.
Festival season in the UK is set to continue next weekend with Reading & Leeds 2021. Ticketholders must provide prove their COVID status in order to gain entry to the event. The government has encouraged businesses and festival organisers to use so-called “COVID passports”, but these initiatives are not mandatory.
Read the report in full here.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, those in the music industry are still pleading with Government Ministers, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Taoiseach Micheál Martin for a roadmap to reopening the live entertainment sector.
Sign the Uplift petition for a roadmap here and contact your local TDs if possible.
"The sector that brings people their most memorable moments has been closed by mandate for more than 500 days, and now faces an imminent collapse unless our sector is properly considered in Covid-19 public health planning," the petition reads.
"We are now the only sector still fully closed without any roadmap. Music, Arts and performance are the soul of the Irish people, rooted deeply in our traditions and our psyche.
"Over 35,000 workers are dependent on this sector and many have had no opportunity to earn an income for nearly 18 months. We are becoming increasingly fearful of the reduction in pandemic income supports that are being pared back next month with no real prospect of increasing work back to pre-pandemic levels," the petition continues.
"Irish Government pilot events that were facilitated throughout the country since June have shown we can successfully do events safely. We need a roadmap for how we plan to incrementally increase the amount of these types of events and other more ambitious events safely as we move forward."
"We would like your support to set a plan for the safe return of our industry and in the meantime, protection for our thousands of workers, many who are availing of income support."
The All-Ireland hurling final took place with 40,000 attendees in Croke Park yesterday, leading many to question why the arts have been excluded totally.
So loud music is banned but equally loud crowd noise at Croke Park is permitted. Whether alcohol is sold outside or inside the ground is irrelevant. The restriction on loud music events must now be scrapped @CMOIreland @MichealMartinTD @DonnellyStephen @LeoVaradkar
— Give Us The Night (@GiveUsTheNight) August 22, 2021
Hearing a crowd at Croker today was absolutely goosebump-inducing! But seeing a relaxed 40k strong crowd/their proximity to one another makes me seriously question what, in the name of God, are our government at when it comes to arts & live entertainment attendance policy?! 🤦♂️
— Dr Gavan Ring (@GavanRing) August 22, 2021
As our wonderful @MichealMartinTD is at @CrokePark today, I’d hope even he might acknowledge that restrictions on the music industry no longer make any sense whatsoever. #livemusic pic.twitter.com/Lhfy4jjDw9
— Darren Holden (@darrenholden72) August 22, 2021