With the increase in infection rates in many European countries, that dream might be far away for now. But some music fans in Leipzig, Germany got the chance to rock for a day in the name of science – with the help of hand sanitizer and electronic trackers.
Researchers from the German city of Leipzig held an experimental indoor concert for 2,000 people on Saturday to gain a better understanding of how Covid-19 spreads during large, busy events and how to prevent it.
At the concert, which featured a live performance by musician Tim Bendzko, fans were given breathing masks, fluorescent hand gel and electronic “contact trackers” – small transmitters that determine contact rates and contact distances of individual participants in the experiment.
Using data from contact trackers, scientists at the University of Halle will monitor the number of ‘critical contacts’ each participant had at specific times and places, while the residue left by the fluorescent hand gel identify frequently touched surfaces. Researchers hope to use the data to find ways to bring back big events safely.
Professor Michael Gekle, dean of the university’s medical school and professor of physiology, told CNN that the experiment is underway to better prepare authorities to organize events in the coming fall seasons and d ‘winter.
“We cannot afford another lockdown,” he said. “We need to put the data together now so that we can make valid predictions,” he said.
“There is no zero risk if you want to have life. We want to give politicians a tool to rationally decide whether or not to allow such an event. This means that they must have the tool to predict the number of additional infected people. such an event will happen, ”he said.
Researchers asked volunteers to run three scenarios – one simulating a pre-coronavirus concert, a second simulating a concert during the pandemic, with improved hygiene measures in place, and a third, with reduced participants. Scientists will collate the data, apply a mathematical model and evaluate hygiene interventions, with conclusions ready by year-end.
Researchers believe this is the first time that an experiment of this magnitude has taken place in Europe, but say different considerations should be applied depending on the type of event, spectator behavior and whether customers were allowed to consume alcohol.
“Of course, a gig with Rammstein would be different,” he said.
Gekle told CNN that due to a low prevalence of the virus in the states of Saxony and Lower Saxony, participation in the study posed a low risk for volunteers, who were tested for the coronavirus for 48 hours. before their participation and wore masks during the show. “It’s safer than flying to Mallorca,” he said.
The number of coronavirus infections in Germany has increased again since the end of July. On Saturday, the country saw its highest number of daily infections since April 26, with 2,034 new cases of Covid-19, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the national center for disease control and control.
The experience may have been controlled, but to some in the crowd – despite the lack of alcohol – it felt like a return to normal.
“It was our first real public applause in months,” Bendzko told CNN. “The atmosphere is surprisingly good – it was almost like a real concert.
“I wish it was possible to play big gigs again someday soon,” he said. “But we all understand that we now have to live with the virus and that we have to take some risk. “
Elli Blesz, 20, from Leipzig, told CNN: “The vibe was really great, we all enjoyed the music – it was nice to listen to live music after six months. “
And Kira Stuetz, a 26-year-old student who attended the concert with her husband, said: “It was a little crazy.” Recalling one of the pre-coronavirus simulations, where members of the public sat together, she said that “at first everyone almost felt bad, everyone was so close. We thought it was “a dream” because it is not allowed to sit so close. ! But it was really cool. I couldn’t believe we were at a real concert again! ”
Organizers around the world have dipped their toes in the water to see when and how live events can be brought back to a world still suffering from the coronavirus pandemic – in the UK event planners have tested concerts in an outdoor social setting. remote concert hall, where clients sat in small groups on remote, elevated platforms.
Some venues are experimenting with virtual events, driving concerts, mandatory personal protective equipment or temperature checks on arrival.
Nadine Schmidt reported from Leipzig, Germany. Amy Woodyatt has written from London.