The Government has announced details of the pilot events to be held in Liverpool, which includes a business event as part of the Events Research Programme (ERP)
The event, along with other music, cultural and sporting events, will be used to provide scientists and Government with key 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 21 June.
The review will be crucial to how venues such as exhibition and conference centres could operate this summer.
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 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 business event curated for the pilot is the Good Business Festival Presents: Change Business for Good at ACC Liverpool and will take place on 28 April.
What the pilot aims to achieve
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 develop and pilot the logistics of event ticketing and testing, venue admittance and post-event follow-up. It will help assess the adequacy of data collected around events and venues for responding to potential outbreaks, and for adapting protection measures according to the background levels and patterns of spread of the virus.
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.
Matthew Ashton, Liverpool’s director of Public Health, said Liverpool was chosen for its infrastructure: “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.”
Iain Buchan, executive dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said that the city is “well-placed” to research safer reopening of events with the right mix of public health research and services. “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,” he said.
“Events are an important part of the wellbeing, social fabric and economies of communities, and stopping them creates harms as well as Covid-19.”
He added that 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 important parts of securing the reopening of events.