The Government has announced details of 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 21 June 2021.
It 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.
Pilots to take place in Liverpool include an outdoor cinema, a club night and a business event, which 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 Liverpool City Council’s cultural service, Culture Liverpool and the University of Liverpool on the project, which follows on from the city’s successful Covid-19 pilot testing programme for people without symptoms held last November.
It 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 events in the city.
The aims are to:
- Develop and pilot the logistics of event ticketing and testing, venue admittance and post-event follow-up.
- 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.
- Measure the uptake of tickets and explore attitudes to, and acceptability of the overall ticketing, questioning and testing regime.
Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice, with the final decision over whether each event can take place being 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.
Decisions of the ticketing arrangements will be announced in the near future, at which point people from across the Liverpool City Region will be able to apply.
Commenting, Liverpool City Council’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.”
Liverpool City Council’s Director of Public Health, Matthew Ashton added: “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.”