Fifteen hundred music fans in Leipzig, Germany, attended a live rock concert by local singer Tim Bendzko, in the name of a scientific experiment designed to better understand how Covid-19 spreads at large events.
Fluorescent hand sanitiser, face masks and contact trackers for transmitting the contact rates and distances of individual participants, were all laid on by researchers for the audience, who sat together without social distancing. Attendees had to provide a negative Covid-19 test result prior to the concert and were mostly young, healthy and not belonging to any high-risk group.
University of Halle researchers will now use data from the tracking devices to investigate how best to bring big live events back safely.
“We want to study how much contact the participants have with one (pictured) another during the concert – which is actually still not clear,” research lead Stefan Moritz said.
“We cannot afford another lockdown. We have to gather the data now in order to be able to make valid predictions,” Professor Michael Gekle, the dean of Halle University’s medical faculty, told CNN.
“There is no zero risk if you want to have life. We want to give the politicians a tool in order to decide rationally whether to allow such an event or not.”
Researchers hope to have results by the end of the year.
Germany has been reporting a slight increase in coronavirus infection rates in recent weeks, with 22 August recording the highest number of daily infections since April.
“This was our first real applause from the audience in months,” Bendzko told CNN. “The atmosphere is surprisingly good — it almost felt like a real concert.”
In some countries event organisers trialled concerts where the audience sit in small groups and some have used the drive-through model, usually with PPE mandatory and temperature checks on arrival.
Photo: Dr Stefan Moritz with the tracing device used in the concert experiment