Thousands of people are watching a rock concert in Barcelona — inside a venue — as part of a test to see how effective same-day COVID screenings are in preventing outbreaks at large events.
Some 5,000 concert-goers were been allowed into the city’s Palau Sant Jordi on Saturday evening, and able to mix freely while watching Spanish rock group Love of Lesbian.
They have to wear masks however, and prior to attending they underwent an antigen test — which gives results much quicker than the widely-used PCR test — which had to give a negative result.
The rest of Spain is limited to gatherings of no more than four people in enclosed spades, but the concert in the Catalan capital is a test to see how effective the measures in place are.
The concert is backed by local authorities and by experts of Barcelona’s The Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation, which also organised a case study around a smaller concert of 500 people in December.
They said that the results of that preliminary case study showed that pre-screening with antigen tests and the use of face masks succeeded in preventing infections inside the concert despite there being no social distancing rules.
People with heart disease, cancer, or those who have been in contact with someone infected by COVID-19 in recent weeks were asked not to sign up to the latest concert.
Ticket holders were able to choose between three venues in Barcelona where they must undergo a quick antigen test on Saturday morning, and the cost of the ticket included the test and a high-quality face mask which they will need to wear.
Organisers say it is the first commercial event of this size held in Europe during the pandemic.
“This is another small step toward being able to hold concerts and cultural events” during the pandemic, said Dr Boris Revollo, a virologist involved in the design of the health protocols.
In addition to being 10 times larger than the concert in December, this time there will be no control group maintained outside the concert hall.
Instead, concertgoers have agreed public health authorities can inform Revollo’s team if they come down with the coronavirus in the weeks after the concert.
With that information, Revollo’s team will do an analysis of infection rates among the 5,000 concertgoers compared with that of the general population to see if there are any discrepancies that could point to contagion at the concert.