The UK government has published results from the 30 events that partook in the Events Research Programme during the pandemic.
Over the span of four months, large scale festivals such as Latitude, Download, and the country’s first indoor test event, ‘The First Dance’ hosted by Circus in Liverpool (pictured), all took part in the programme.
All the events took place between April and July 2021 just ahead of lockdown restrictions officially easing on July 19. The research programme aided the comeback of nightlife in the UK.
Now, the government has published the results from events such as sporting shows, concerts, and commercial events such as the BRIT Awards ceremony, which confirmed that “numerous factors were likely to have contributed to the higher transmission risk at these events.”
This included: “high rates of unvaccinated attendees, community prevalence at the time of the events studied, the structure of the events, and the behaviour of attendees leading up to and after attending these events.”
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Shortly after the first test event in April, the government reported large scale events were "no more dangerous than going shopping," alongside data from the event that proved infection rates were lessened through testing.
Given the factors involved in transmission rates, the government reported that “the results may not be applicable to other contexts.”
According to the report, published on November 26, the individual risk was dependent on “social interactions, on the interaction with the environment, and on the individual journey through an event.”
They also found that there was less risk in transmission under the categories of “mainly outdoor seated”, “mainly outdoor partially seated” or “indoor seated theatre events”, although the latter was often associated with events with a 50% capacity or less.
Unseated outdoor events such as large scale festivals were associated with a 1.7 fold increased risk of transmission amongst attendees, which, for context, usually has a “baseline period” of around 0.9.
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“Reasons for this difference in transmission risk are likely to be multifactorial and could include behaviour whilst at the event, overall event size and duration or mode of travel to and from the event,” they found.
The report added, “new variants arise that are more transmissible and possibly less responsive to vaccines than those encountered in our studies, which would change transmission risk.”
Despite the government’s findings, they clarified that it’s “not yet possible” to quantify this risk of “inhaling aerosol particles that carry the virus from ambient air”, but believe there’s an increased risk via exposure to poor air quality and reduced distancing.
“It was found to vary significantly among venues and even within the same event, implying that customers can choose lower risk environments and behaviours to reduce their personal risk,” the report concluded.
Find the full report here.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter