Just 28 Covid cases recorded during government events research programme

28 June 2021 by
Just 28 Covid cases recorded during government events research programme

Just 28 cases of coronavirus were recorded during the government's events research programme, following nine pilot events involving 58,000 participants.

The ERP's report acknowledged that these numbers reflected the rigorous testing regime in place for attendance at each event and relatively low levels of community prevalence of Covid-19 at the time. However, it also said that uptake of post-event PCR tests, used to measure transmission, was also low.

Indoor events including Circus nightclub, which hosted nearly 7,000 people over two nights, saw 10 cases recorded. The World Snooker Championship saw six cases recorded from over 10,000 attendees over 17 days. The BRIT Awards, which saw 3,500 people attend the event at London's O2 Arena, recorded no cases.

All three pilot events held at Wembley Stadium, which saw 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.

The scheme was commissioned by the prime minister to explore how the reopening of events can be conducted safely, including without social distancing, while limiting the transmission of Covid-19 as much as possible.

The first phase of the pilot event scheme gathered significant data on behaviour, movement, ventilation and testing and found that with mitigating factors, such as social distancing at pinch points, face coverings and staggered entry and exit times, events can be conducted more safely at increased capacities while maintaining a low risk of transmission.

It concluded that both indoor and outdoor events carry levels of transmission risk but ‘pinch points' in venues where attendees may congregate for extended periods carry greater transmission risk and that indoor events with large crowds and proximity may pose a higher potential risk of transmission as a result of close proximity and poor ventilation.

Mitigations such as face coverings, ventilation, testing, restrictions on food and drink and social distancing or capacity caps all contributed to reducing the transmission risk.

While additional events continue to gather further evidence, no decisions have been taken on the full reopening of mass events. The government will set out its position on this ahead of step four in 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 vs New Zealand test match at Edgbaston and Royal Ascot having taken place this month. Research into the events is still being gathered and analysed by the ERP science team.

The government is in discussions with cultural and sporting events to include them in an expanded third phase, designed to further trial testing and vaccine status in the form of the NHS Covid Pass (via the NHS App) to allow crowds back safely and efficiently.

The third phase of the ERP will include Wimbledon Championships, the Open Championship, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Home and Gift 2021, Rugby League's Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup Finals, Latitude and the Grange Opera Festival. Further events will be added in due course.

The findings from the events will feed into the government's review of Covid certification.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "The report acknowledges that, across the course of the pandemic, businesses reliant on events have been hit disproportionately hard by the restrictions in place on operating venues, such as social distancing and capacity limits. This has resulted in significant and widespread commercial impact and ongoing loss of revenue. These businesses have needed to rely heavily on government support, which has been welcome, but are now desperate to trade their way to recovery and welcome back guests.

"The report's findings that there were no substantial outbreaks of Covid-19 identified following any of the first phase of test events, along with the continued success of the vaccine programme, should give the government confidence to go ahead with a full and final lifting of restrictions next month. Hospitality can play its part in the UK's economic recovery but only if given permission to trade freely."

Photo: sasiko kaan/shutterstock.com

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