Music fans in Barcelona, Spain was involved in a Covid-19 test ahead of attending a rock concert in an experiment that, if it goes well, could be a bounce-back for live music concerts in Spain and beyond. The show was at the Palau de Sant Jordi, which can host a 24,000 audience.
Attendees received their test results within 10 to 15 minutes through an application on their phones. The test result and a face mask were made mandatory and were part of the gate pass except while eating or drinking in selected areas. The tickets, ranging from €23-28 (£20-25), included the cost of the test and the face mask.
Palau de Sant Jordi held the concert, Barcelona, with 5,000 spectators in attendance. All attendants were screened individually at three testing centres to test if such an event can be held with strict safety measures.
Dani Poveda, event staff and co-organiser, said, “People have understood completely the measures we’re adopting” “It is a very responsible audience… We know everyone will be looking at this concert as a possible model for how to keep advancing in the fight against the pandemic, which has caused so much damage, both to our sector and many others.”
Dr Josep Maria Llibre told AFP news agency; over the next 14 days, we will check how many of the spectators test positive for Covid and will report back,” “I’m so very, very excited. We’ve not been on stage for 18 months now, and one of us up here is in tears!” Santi Balmes, the lead singer, screamed to her fans from atop the stage.
“We really wanted to do something different, to take a step towards normality,” one attendee told AFP. But Marina Crespo, 25, added that despite the trade-show safety procedures, she still tried to keep the social distancing measures.
According to a Spain’s Music Federation study, the virus has distressed the live music industry and many other entertainment activities. The European music industry had lost 76% of its income in 2020.
To ensure safety, the concert was approved by the local Spain authorities. It was backed by Barcelona’s The Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation, which also organised a similar event around a lesser concert of 500 people in December. The show featured the Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian. Fans took a test earlier in the day and did not have to keep the social distancing protocol, but they still wore masks.
It is one of the biggest gatherings in Europe over a year since the virus began. “This is for one night only, so enjoy it,” one of the event staff said before the concert started at Saint Jordi Arena.
Scientist Perceived the Concert as a Safety Experiment
The concert was organised as part of a research project looking at the possibility of holding Covid-secure crowd events following rapid testing of spectators. It follows a comparable experiment in the Netherlands when fans attended a two-day music festival after a negative Covid test result.
However, in Barcelona, ticket-holders only gained access to the trade show once they received a negative test result code on their phones. Temperatures and men of identification were checkered at the entrance.
Personals from a local hospital and event staff jointly carried out rapid testing in booths within tents at three local venues. Spectators were mandated to inform the researchers if they contract the virus in the coming days. 80 nurses wearing complete individual protective equipment carried out the pre-concert testing at three different Barcelona locations.
Barcelona’s The Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation and the Primavera Sound Music Festival were all event staff in the potential breakthrough scientific study concert. Dr Boris Revollo, the virologist who designed the study’s protocols, told AP News. “This is not a party. This is a scientific study,” “This could be useful in all types of events, from entertainment events to business congresses, to sporting events,” Revollo said. “And young people, as we have seen, are holding their own clandestine parties because they have no other outlet.”
Dr Josep Maria Libre, a doctor who organised the testing, said; by the middle of the day, only 3 out of 2,400 people already screened had a positive test result, and one had physical contact with a positive case. So, they couldn’t attend the concert and would be refunded. The event was meant to test if such an event can be held during the pandemic with strict hygiene measures.
“Welcome to one of the most moving concerts of our lives,” Santi Balmes, the band’s lead singer, told his beaming audience. “It’s been a year and a half since we last set foot on a stage as a band.
Screened Spectators at the Concert in Barcelona
5000 spectators who were allowed into the event were mandated to wear face masks and use hand sanitisers; however, social distancing was not imposed. This was to attempt to imitate an authentic concert atmosphere as practically as possible. These spectators felt freedom and happiness as everyone saw in the photos taken from the evening concert.
La Vanguardia reported that every spectator had to undergo a coronavirus test at one of three screening centres. Only six tested positive.
Only people between the ages of 18 and 65 with smartphones capable of receiving the test results were allowed to enter. They also had to share their information with the Spain Health Ministry.
A spectator, Jose Parejo, told the AP news agency. “We were able to evade reality for a while. We were inside our small concert bubble. And we were even able to remember back in time when things like this one were normal. Things that nowadays aren’t that normal, sadly,”
The Saturday concert also lacked a control group at the venue. Virologist, Boris Revollo, noted that the trade show is another small step toward holding concerts and entertainment events during the pandemic.
The spectators are expected to inform the study team if they contract the virus in the weeks following the concert. With that information, Revollo’s team will analyse infection rates among the 5,000 Spectators compared with that of the general population to see if any discrepancies could point to an infection.
How do you think this Barcelona experiment will help with the current situation in our industry? We can’t wait to hear your thoughts.