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20th May 2021

Gigs and shows no more dangerous than going shopping, trials suggest

Claudia McInerney

This comes after large government pilot events took place in the UK

Events without social distancing and mask wearing are as safe as going to a restaurant or visiting a shopping centre, early data from government trials seems to suggest.

Preliminary data, seen by The Times, suggests that transmission of Covid-19 could be reduced at large events by introducing simple measures, such as screening and good ventilation.

This comes after pilot test events were carried out across the country in preparation for large events post-lockdown. Football matches at Wembley stadium, the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield and a Blossoms gig in Liverpool were among the pilot test events involved in the trial.

All attendees of the large pilot events were tested for Covid-19 before and after the event took place.

As reported by The Times, the results from the trials will be issued to ministers over the next couple of days, as they make important decisions regarding next stages of easing lockdown restrictions.

The initial date scheduled to ease all social restrictions was 21 June, however there are concerns that the next stage of easing lockdown could be delayed due to the prevalence of the so-called Indian variant in the UK.

The Indian variant, named B.1.617.2, which has been identified as a “variant of concern” by Public Health England, is now the dominant strain in certain parts of the UK, including Bolton and Blackburn.

A government source told The Times that the preliminary data emerging from the trial was “encouraging”, explaining: “It will help make the case that these large events are not inherently more risky than other parts of the hospitality sector.

“It shows that there are things that you can do to make these settings as safe as other daily activities.

“It is true that they are not going to be 100% safe but you can lower the risk to a reasonable level.”