The Government has announced details of the pilot events to be held in Liverpool, as the city follows in the footsteps of Amsterdam and Barcelona by participating in a science-led research programme to reopen the cultural and business sectors.
The Events Research Programme (ERP) will be used to provide key scientific data into how events for a range of audiences could be permitted to safely reopen as part of Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown, commencing no earlier than June 21.
The review will be crucial to how venues – from major sport stadiums to comedy clubs, theatres to live music spaces, wedding venues to conference centres – could operate this summer.
The Liverpool pilots – a comedy gig, an outdoor cinema, a club night and a business event – will gather evidence associated with different settings and approaches to managing and mitigating transmission risk.
The pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation, including the use of lateral flow tests – but not so-called ‘vaccine passports’.
The Government is working closely with the University of Liverpool and Culture Liverpool on the project, which follows on from the city’s successful pilot Covid-19 testing programme for people without symptoms held last November.
The programme is being overseen by the Government’s ERP Science Board with inputs from the University of Liverpool who are leading independent evaluation of the public health measures to secure the Liverpool events.
The aims are to:
Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice.
The final decision over whether each event can take place will be made by local officials.
The evidence from the events will be shared across the event economy nationwide, so that venues can prepare to accommodate fuller audiences.
Booking a ticket
Decisions of the ticketing arrangements will be announced in the near future, at which point people from across Liverpool City Region will be able to apply.
If an event does not take place, ticketholders will get a full refund and the cost will be covered by the Government
Liverpool’s Director of Culture, Claire McColgan MBE, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Government and the University of Liverpool on this vitally important research programme.
“Events are part of the DNA of Liverpool and a critical part of our culture and community. More than that, they represent more than half of our economy, so also play a major role in the success of the city.
“This is a show of confidence by the Government in the city and everyone who takes part, from the venues to the attendees, will be playing a role in influencing the reopening of these sectors across the rest of the country.”
Matthew Ashton, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our experience as the pilot city for mass symptom-free testing means we have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to deliver complicated projects safely.
“We really hope we can help provide the scientific evidence needed to ensure the wider sector is able to open across the country in the coming months.
“This is a continuation of the city’s long-standing tradition of carrying out pioneering public health work that not only has an impact here, but also across the rest of the country and the wider world.”
Iain Buchan, Executive Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said: “Liverpool is uniquely placed to research safer reopening of events with the right mix of public health research and services and a remarkable community spirit for helping society recover from COVID-19, with care and togetherness.
“This work will follow in the footsteps of a successful pilot of community testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19, which is an increasingly important tool, among other public health measures, for resisting and recovering from the pandemic in many parts of the world.
“Events are an important part of the wellbeing, social fabric and economies of communities, and stopping them creates harms as well as COVID-19.
“Testing, questioning about symptoms, good ventilation, using outdoor venues where possible, being careful on public transport and continued attention to hands-face-space as much as possible are all important parts of securing the reopening of events. Liverpool will take a first step in researching how these measures can work over the coming months.”
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely.
“This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance.
“We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”