Just 28 Covid cases were detected after 10 major events involving 58,000 people, experts have said, as they confirmed that the European Championship finals can go ahead safely.
Between mid-April and mid-May, the Government allowed a number of large gatherings to take place, including the World Snooker Championships, The Brits, the FA Cup Final, a 5k fun run and a club night in Liverpool.
Participants had to test negative to be allowed in, and were asked to take a second test after the event to see if they had caught Covid there.
Results published on Friday show that there were no major outbreaks caused by any of the events and just 28 people tested positive in the days that followed.
Asked whether it was safe to allow 60,000 people to meet for the European Championship final, Professor Tom Rodden, a chief scientific adviser in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Certainly, those events can go on safely.”
The Events Research Programme was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February 2021 as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, and was designed to explore how reopening of events can be conducted safely whilst limiting the transmission of the virus.
The report found that prevalence within events was no different to that in the wider community, which they said was “reassuring”.
Of the 28 cases found, 10 arose from the nightclub event in Liverpool, which hosted 7,000 people over two nights. Six cases were recorded linked to the 10,000 attendees of the 17-day World Snooker Championship, held at the Crucible in Sheffield.
There were no cases recorded from The Brit Awards in London and eight cases at the FA Cup Semi Final, Carabao Cup Final and FA Cup Final combined.
An outdoor festival pilot at Sefton Park, in which over 6,000 people attended, saw two cases. Meanwhile, the Reunion 5k run at Kempton Park also recorded just two cases from nearly 2,000 attendees.
Experts said it was important that people were allowed back to mass events because it was important for mental health and social cohesion.
Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority
Professor Iain Buchan, the chair of public health and clinical informatics at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a really important social phenomenon, and the World Health Organisation’s founding principle was health as a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, or the absence of a virus.
“We have to consider society in the round.”
Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, added: “The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to step four of the roadmap.”
A second phase of pilot events has completed, with group stage European Championship matches hosted at Wembley Stadium, the Download Pilot music festival, the England versus New Zealand test match at Edgbaston and Royal Ascot having taken place this month.
Data from those events are now being analysed.
The third phase will involve trialling an NHS Covid Pass to allow people who have been doubly vaccinated to avoid needing to test, and includes the Wimbledon Championships, The Open Championship, Goodwood Festival of Speed and Latitude festival.