The music industry has been forced to put the vast majority of live events on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, but scientists in Germany are throwing their own concert for the sake of research.
With social distancing regulations easing up around the world, a new experiment known as RESTART-19 aims to expose the risks of large-scale events. In order to better understand the spread of the virus, researchers at the University Hospital Halle (Saale) have plans to hold a mass gathering on August 22nd, a real concert-like scenario featuring a German pop star and thousands of music fans.
The sample will only include volunteers of healthy individuals, between ages 18 – 50, who have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous 48 hours. Only those who test negative will be allowed to enter, each equipped with a FFP2 filter face mask and fluorescent hand sanitizer. German singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko will take the stage at Leipzig Arena to simulate an authentic concert experience.
The experiment will play out under three different scenarios. Aside from the face masks and sanitizer, the first scenario will play out like a pre-COVID-19 concert with 4,000 attendees who have free rein of the venue, interacting with other audience members as they please. The second run will also have 4,000 guests, but with optimized hygiene concepts and defined distances between participants. The final run will slash capacity in half with 2,000 subjects while enforcing bleacher seating and 1.5 meters in between guests.
Professor Armin Willingmann, Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of Economics, explains in a statement: “The corona pandemic paralyzes the event industry. As long as there is a risk of contagion, no major concerts and trade fairs or sports events are allowed. That is why it is so important to find out which technical or organizational framework can effectively minimize the risk of infection.”
Petra Köpping, Saxony’s Minister of State for Social Affairs and Social Cohesion adds: “If we want to allow major events again in the future, we need scientific knowledge about how we can minimize the risk of infection and create more security for all participants.”
The full experiment is detailed here (in German).