30th July 2021
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Hope for summer music festivals as Barcelona concert trial leaves no trace of Covid

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (3 May)

There are encouraging signs that this summer’s music festivals may go ahead, following the results of a successful trial that took place in an indoor concert in Barcelona last month.

Details have been revealed about the tracking of Covid cases amongst the 4,592 people who attended the Love of Lesbian gig at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi on 27 March, giving hope to festival goers in Spain that events will be able to take place in the months ahead.

During the trial, only six people tested positive within two weeks of the concert, equating to an incidence rate of 131 cases per 100,000. The incidence rate for Barcelona at the same time was 259.5 per 100,000.

The gig was the first large concert in over a year, with the audience not required to remain seated or be socially distanced, but they did have to provide proof of a negative antigen test and wear FFP2 masks.

Each participant underwent PCR tests two weeks after the concert. Josep Maria Llibre, a specialist in infectious diseases from the Hospital Germans i Trias and who was involved with the trial, said that ‘there is no sign that suggests that transmission took place during the event’.

Llibre was confident about the results, stating the ‘we are certain that in four of these six cases, transmission did not take place during the concert’ and that ‘with optimised ventilation, antigen tests and the wearing of face masks, we can guarantee a safe place’.

Of the six positive cases, medical professionals have determined that four were not infected at the concert, and that there was uncertainty about how the other two became infected. However, given the strict measures in place at the event, both before and during the concert, it is believed to be unlikely that these two people picked up the virus at the venue.

Rototom Sunsplash Festival
Rototom Sunsplash Festival, Benicàssim.

Festival director Jordi Herreruela, one of the organisers of the event, was upbeat about the results of the trial, saying that they ‘can now see the light at the end of the tunnel’.

He was also confident about plans for events this summer, saying ‘these will take place with safety measures and with the assistance of medical professionals’.

With the incidence rate in Spain still hovering at high levels in some regions, there is hope that the vaccination programme will help to reduce transmission rates and allow events to take place, bringing a much-needed boost to the arts and culture sector, that has been devastated by the restrictions in place over the last 12 months.

The Catalan culture minister, Àngels Ponsa, confirmed that the government was looking at a framework to allow events to take place in the months ahead, with the health and culture departments collaborating on how this can work effectively and safely.

She said that ‘we still do not have certain methodological details or know how to eventually lower the cost of mass antigen tests, but we are convinced that we will be able to’.

Spain has gained an enviable reputation in recent years for music festivals, attracting bands and audiences from across the globe.

Organisers are keen to establish whether government plans to re-start concerts, with safety measures in place, will allow festivals to take place this summer.

The results of the Love of Lesbian gig trial will give festival goers and organisers hope that there may be a return to events this summer, subject to appropriate frameworks being in place.

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