German scientists and medical professionals are preparing to hold a series of indoor concerts to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 transmission risk associated with large audiences.
Researchers and health experts from the University Medical Center Halle (Saale) recently unveiled their project – dubbed Restart-19 – via an official website, which is also recruiting 4,200 “healthy volunteers” between 18 and 50 years of age. Approved and funded by the government of Saxony, a state in eastern Germany, Restart-19 is set to occur on Saturday, August 22nd, between 8 AM and 6 PM.
Comprised of three separate “scenarios,” each taking place in the Arena Leipzig (which boasts a concert capacity of 12,200), the study will attempt to gauge the foremost contact risks presented to attendees at crowd-based live entertainment functions. Researchers will then use the information to help venues minimize COVID-19’s threat to fans as traditional crowd-based concerts resume, with a particular emphasis on preventing unnecessary contact between individuals and upon “touch points.”
The University Medical Center Halle (Saale) intends to mail prospective participants COVID-19 tests in the leadup to the analysis, and predictably, only those who test negative will be admitted to the experimental gigs (featuring sets from Berlin-born singer Tim Bendzko). As an added precaution, the medical professionals overseeing the 10-hour-long assessment will supply personal hand sanitizer containers and FFP2 respirator masks, which “must be worn all the time during the experiments.” Finally, eligible enrollees will receive small “contact tracers” to record their movements and interactions.
According to the Restart-19 website, the first of the aforementioned three “scenarios” will involve all 4,000 participants, who will be encouraged to enjoy “an event sequence as before the pandemic started.” These same 4,000 individuals will attempt to recreate a socially distanced crowd, with enhanced sanitization measures in place, throughout sequence two. Lastly, sequence three will simulate attendees’ arrival and departure via tram, and 2,000 persons will sit about five feet apart on bleachers to enjoy Bendzko’s show. (Each set’s duration is unclear, but needless to say, three total hours of performing would constitute something of a marathon even with long breaks.)
At the time of this writing, a little under 1,100 persons had enrolled in the experiment, which will not afford participants monetary compensation, once again.
Other European nations are slowly allowing fans to enjoy live music. Socially distanced outdoor concerts have officially returned to England, and socially distanced indoor performances are tentatively set to continue next month. Northern Ireland, for its part, is scheduled to host the UK’s first socially distanced music festival starting on August 21st.