Government Publishes COVID-19 Events Research Programme Report

Priscilla Lynch

June 28, 2021

The Government has published the report of the first phase of its Events Research Programme (ERP), which has helped to understand how the risk of transmission of COVID-19 can be reduced at large events when mitigating measures are introduced.

Phase one of the ERP programme involved a total of 58,000 participants at venues across the country including Liverpool, Sheffield, and London. It required all attendees to prove a negative lateral flow test as the condition of entry into the events. All attendees were also asked to take a voluntary pre and post event PCR test to aid the programme’s research.

The study gathered significant data on behaviour, movement, ventilation and testing.

It concluded that:

  • Both indoor and outdoor events carry levels of transmission risk but ‘pinch points’ in venues where attendees may congregate for extended periods carry greater transmission risk

  • Large indoor events with high crowd density and proximity may pose a higher potential risk of transmission as a result of close proximity and poor ventilation.

  • Mitigations such as face coverings, ventilation, testing, restrictions on food and drink, and social distancing/capacity caps all contributed to reducing transmission risk

  • Compliance with social distancing, face covering and testing requirements was generally high across all events where they were required.

  • Low uptake of PCR testing before and after events meant evidence of direct transmission at events was challenging to determine.

  • Nearly all CO2 levels recorded at the pilot events were within the bounds of reasonable ventilation benchmarks with outdoor spaces clearly better for ventilation than indoors.

The report confirms that 28 cases of COVID-19 were recorded from all available data during the ERP’s first nine events. Of these 28 cases, the report has found 11 cases were identified as potentially infectious at an event, and a further 17 were identified as potentially infected at or around the time of an event.

While additional ERP events continue to gather further evidence, no decisions have been taken on the full reopening of mass events. The Government will set out its position on this ahead of Step 4 in England's reopening roadmap.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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