A crowd of ravers in Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, one of the early test events (Image: Mercury Press & Media)
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Pilots into mass events detected only 28 Covid cases and no major outbreaks, Government scientists have found.
The Events Research Programme (ERP) ran an initial nine pilots to test the safety of allowing the return of crowds in April and May, including the FA Cup Final and the Brit Awards.
Ministers have been under pressure to publish the details of the pilots to help the battered events industry.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and a string of senior figures in the battered theatre and the live music industry started legal action this week to force the Government to hand over the results of the pilots.
Scientists running the programme identified 28 cases at the time of the event and the following week, according to a new report.
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Ten cases were recorded at indoor events including Circus nightclub, which hosted nearly 7,000 people over two nights.
The World Snooker Championship saw six cases recorded from over 10,000 attendees over 17 days.
There were no cases at the BRIT Awards, which saw 3,500 people attend the event at London’s O2 Arena.
All three pilot events held at Wembley Stadium, which saw a total of almost 30,000 people attend the FA Cup Semi Final, Carabao Cup Final and FA Cup Final combined saw eight cases recorded.
The ERP’s outdoor festival pilot at Sefton Park, in which over 6,000 people attended saw two cases, with the Reunion 5k run at Kempton Park also recording just two cases from nearly 2,000 attendees.
Leicester fans at a test event for the FA Cup Final in May at Wembley Stadium
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Asked if the findings were reassuring, Professor Iain Buchan, of Liverpool University, told a briefing: “Yes, I find it reassuring that our public health services can put that kind of outbreak prevention and control in place when the partnerships are tight with the event organiser.”
Professor Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said he wouldn’t pretend things were “rosy” but the prevalence of Covid cases was similar to in the community.
No decision has been taken on the full re-opening of mass events, with an update due ahead of Step 4 of the roadmap – expected on July 19.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our innovative and science-led Events Research Programme is helping us to better understand how the risk of transmission at major events can be effectively mitigated.
“The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to Step 4 of the roadmap.”
A second phase of pilot events has completed, with group stage UEFA EURO 2020 matches hosted at Wembley Stadium, the Download Pilot music festival, the England v New Zealand test match at Edgbaston and Royal Ascot having taken place this month.
Ministers are in talks about using Covid passports for the third phase of the programme.