The UK Government has finally published the results from Phase 1 of its Events Research Programme.
The study of a number of test events, including this year's BRIT Awards, was undertaking to provide a scientific basis for the re-starting of live events and appears to show that mitigations like face coverings and testing can allow these to take place safely.
The results have been welcomed by the music industry, although while the live sector cooperated with the study and staged several of the tests, industry body LIVE had threatened to legal action against the government after it initially delayed making the Events Research Programme's findings public.
Now the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has published its first findings.
According to the report, "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."
It also found that, "large indoor events with high crowd density and proximity may pose a higher potential risk of transmission as a result of close proximity and poor ventilation."
The use of mitigations like face coverings and testing "contributed to reducing transmission risk", although the study's authors noted there was a "low uptake of PCR testing before and after events meant evidence of direct transmission at events was challenging to determine."
A total of 58,000 people took part in the study at venues across the UK. A second phase included the recent Download Festival pilot, while the study's next phase will aim to "further examine transmission data and build on evidence base of low case rates from phase one."
“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," said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
“The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to Step 4 of the roadmap.”
ERP chief advisor David Ross added: “Our number one priority has been to try and get fans back into grounds, theatres and events spaces as quickly and as safely as possible. Despite the huge challenges presented by the pandemic the events industry has worked tirelessly alongside the Government to try and make this happen. It has been a huge team effort and the research and data that we are publishing today will be invaluable for anyone hosting an event once the economy fully reopens."
The UK music industry has welcomed the publication of Events Research Programme despite the delay.
“We are pleased that The BRIT Awards 2021 with Mastercard recorded zero positive COVID cases as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme, based on a substantial sample of more than 1000 people who completed tests both before and after the event," said Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards.
"We’d like to thank everyone that helped to make this possible – the artists and their crews, the fans who attended, DCMS and the brilliant team at The O2 arena and AEG. We took the decision to stage the BRITs with an audience to try to help the quick return of live music, so we very much hope this data will help venues big and small to open up at scale across the country in the weeks and months ahead.”
UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said he hoped the publication of the report would now allow the re-opening of the live sector to continue.
"It's welcome that the Government has responded to our calls to publish this vital data on the pilot events. This is a critical step towards getting the live music industry up and running," he suggested.
"The music industry has been working flat out to make gigs, concerts and festivals safe and reduce the risk of Covid transmission at events. The Events Research Programme data vindicates the massive efforts and innovations our sector has made to restart the live music industry. Now we have evidence showing events can take place safely, the Government must now give the green light for events to go ahead without social distancing from July 19."
He added: "With 60,000 fans expected at Wembley for the Euros, thousands at Wimbledon and a capacity crowd of 140,000 at the Silverstone Grand Prix, it is only right that major live music events are also able to proceed safely.
"We will continue talking to the Government to get as many live events back on stage as possible from the expected July 19 reopening date to deliver a great British summer of music. It is particularly welcome that the data shows there were no infections at the 3,500-capacity BRIT Awards.”
The report's publication follows news earlier that the majority of UK festivals have now cancelled their plans for 2021, while MPs on the House Of Commons' Public Accounts Committee published a report suggesting UK festivals will not survive without a "government-backed insurance indemnity package".