Manchester music venues Deaf Institute and Gorilla to close
(Credit: Alani Cruz)

Coronavirus concert experiment finds risk of spread is “very low”

A team of scientists have conducted an experiment on the transmission of coronavirus in a concert arena and suggested that the risk of spreading the infection within indoor shows was “low to very low”. Conducted at Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, Germany, the results have now been published online.

The experiment was led by Dr Stefan Moritz of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the head of the university’s clinical infectious diseases department, who sought to collect data on the transmission of COVID-19 within an indoor concert using 1,400 volunteers. The study recruited the audience for a show featuring German pop singer Tim Bendzko back in August with the results now offering hope for the live music industry.

The results aren’t a recommendation to go back to concerts just yet. Instead, they have been conducted as a hope to identify the individual activities at a concert which pose the greatest risk of transmission. With those risks assessed, it is hoped more robust guidelines can be written to help venues safely and quickly resume live shows.

Reported by the New York Times, the researchers have determined that their results showed the risk of spreading coronavirus during indoor performances was “low to very low” so long as safety measures, including hygiene protocols, were in place. It also noted that good ventilation and limited capacity are also essential to that assessment.

“There is no argument for not having such a concert,” said Dr Michael Gekle, a researcher on the project told The Times. “The risk of getting infected is very low.” One key aspect of this assessment is ventilation. As one might expect, the increase of “fresh air” within a scenario helped to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Social distancing is also a large factor in helping to reduce the transmission rate.

The findings are certainly positive but do come with the caveat of the nature of the experiment. The likelihood of being able to adopt the measures used in the experiment, across all indoor venues, is very low. However, it is the first bit of good news live music has had in a while, so we’ll take it.

A reminder of how perfect a live show can be, IDLES at Le Bataclan:

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