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Photography Joseph Pearson, via Unsplash

Primavera’s non-socially distanced gig was a success

One of the first COVID-era concert trials has resulted in no infection rate, paving the way for the return of live music

Last month, Primavera Sound hosted one of Europe’s first non-socially distanced gigs, inviting over 1,000 people to an event in Barcelona. The festival employed rapid testing on arrival, with each attendee having to return a negative test before being guaranteed entry. Now, the results are in – and they’re good.

The trial, dubbed PRIMACOV, resulted in no infection rate. Of the 1,000 participants, 463 ended up attending the gig, with 496 placed in a ‘control group’ which had no access to the venue. All of the participants took a rapid test COVID-19 test on the day of the concert, before returning eight days later for a follow-up test. There were no positive results in the group who attended, and just two in the ‘control group’.

PRIMACOV was organised alongside the Hospital Germans Trias in Barcelona and the Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundations. The study into the concert was conducted by Boris Revollo and Josep M Llibre, who believe the measures taken at the event could easily be rolled out at other gigs.

“Attending a live music concert staged with a series of security measures that included a negative antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 done on the same day was not associated with an increase in COVID-19 infections,” the authors said. “Hopefully this data will pave the way to save live concerts during the COVID pandemic.”

The success of Primavera’s event mirrors that of an experimental coronavirus concert which took place in Germany in August. Following the event, researchers said the risk of the virus spreading in venues following strict protocols is “low to very low”.

In November, Ticketmaster announced plans to check the vaccine status of concertgoers before allowing them to attend gigs. The company hopes to use fans’ smartphones to confirm their vaccine status, as well as whether or not they’ve tested positive for the virus over a 72-hour window. If a test came back positive, they couldn’t go.

Though festivals may be “a long way” from confirming whether they’ll return this year, at least events like PRIMACOV remind us that there’s an end in sight. Bring on summer 2022?