U.K.’s Test of Large Events Shows No Substantial Virus Outbreaks

No substantial Covid-19 outbreaks were reported among any of the nine pilot events -- including the Brit Awards and the FA Cup soccer final -- included in the first phase of a government study into whether large crowds can safely gather again.

The Events Research Programme included a total of 58,000 participants at events held in April and May at various venues across the country, with only 28 virus cases reported, according to a statement published Friday by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It noted, however, that evidence of direct transmission at the events was “challenging to determine” because of a low uptake of PCR testing before and after.

Face coverings, ventilation and testing were all found to control and reduce transmission of coronavirus at large events, according to the study. The British government has reportedly faced criticism for deciding to allow more than 60,000 people inside Wembley Stadium next month for the last stages of soccer’s European Championship.

“The findings and learnings will help event organizers plan for large audiences as we move to Step 4 of the roadmap,” Oliver Dowden, U.K. culture secretary, said in the statement, referring to the government’s plans for fully ending lockdown restrictions.

Pinch points where crowds are more likely to gather, such as indoor toilets, hold the greatest transmission risk, according to the findings of the study, commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February.

The government is awaiting results of the second phase of the pilot program. The third and final phase will include the Wimbledon tennis tournament, Latitude music festival and rugby championships.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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