‘Events Can Take Place’: German Scientists Present COVID Experiment Results

Looks almost normal.
Courtesy of Halle University
– Looks almost normal.
1,500 people participated in a test concert performed by Tim Bendzko to gather data on how to make live events covid-proof.

Scientists at the medical center of Halle University in Germany conducted a scientific experiment at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, Aug. 22, in order to gather data on crowd management that could provide useful for live event professionals.
German singer and songwriter Tim Bendzko performed a real concert on the day, during which different crowd behavior scenarios were simulated. The results are now in and were presented during an Oct. 29 press conference.
1,500 participants, who had registered and showed up for the experiment, were handed and wore contact tracing devices, which gathered data that has been evaluated, analyzed and modeled over these past two months since the concert took place. 
Aside from that, the organizers of the experiment also simulated air flow. They made the spread of aerosols visible by utilizing fog machines. “It demonstrated how a change in the setting of the escape nozzles, for instance from facing up to facing down, changes the airflow,” the university’s science editor Cornelia Fuhrmann told Pollstar.
Air flow simulation at Quarterback Immobilien Arena Leipzig.
Courtesy of Halle University
– Air flow simulation at Quarterback Immobilien Arena Leipzig.
Good ventilation is one of the most crucial aspects of a safe event.

“This, of course, differs from venue to venue. The data from Arena Leipzig’s ventilation will be incorporated in the mathematical model. The entire arena has been recreated as a computer model,” Fuhrmann explained. 
The experiment’s initiators – Halle University’s Institute of Medical Epidemiology, Biometrics and Informatics, Leipzig arena, and handball team DFfK Leipzig – picked a few highlights from their findings. 
They found that the overall number of contacts lasting several minutes, which are the critical contacts according to the scientists, wasn’t that high, and could be reduced significantly with the right hygiene concepts. Most contacts take place during entry and breaks, which is why the planning need to focus those aspects of any given show. Bad ventilation may increase the number of people exposed to the risk of infection.
 As scientists unsurprisingly found,
Courtesy of Halle University
– As scientists unsurprisingly found, “risk” of crowding is particularly high at the f&b stalls.
The German states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt financed the experiment.

Some 90% of participants said in a survey conducted after the concert, that they didn’t mind wearing a mask and were willing to continue to do so in order to be able to visit events again. Last, and most importantly, they found, that if event promoters stick to hygiene concepts, their events will have little to hardly any impact on the pandemic.

Dr. Stefan Moritz, who works at Halle University and directed the study, said the results confirmed the research team’s thesis that not all participants in an event are making critical contact, i.e. a form of human interaction scientists deemed risky. 
“Therefore, events can take place even in a pandemic situation under certain conditions,” he said, adding, “the most important insight for us was the impact of a good ventilation technology, which is a key component when it comes to risk of contagion.”
It chimes with what theater icon Andrew Lloyd Webber told British politicians in a recent parliamentary hearing on the reopening of venues, when he said that the air in his theaters was purer than the air outside thanks to state-of-the-art ventilation systems. 
Based on their findings, the researches came up with a list of recommendations: Event venues require ventilation technology that facilitates a good and regular exchange of air in the room. They suggested coming up with an evaluation system for what constitutes “adequate room air technology.”
As long as the pandemic was ongoing, hygiene concepts needed to remain in place, according to the researchers. This included mandatory masks inside the hall as well as stewards making sure the rules are followed.
German singer-sogwriter Tim Bendzko.
Courtesy of Halle University
– German singer-sogwriter Tim Bendzko.
Performed in the name of science.

Seating plans and capacities needed to be adjusted depending on the incidence of the virus. More than one entry point at the event location should be a given, in order to direct the flow of visitors. Indoor waiting areas should be relocated outdoors. During the event, people should consume foods and beverages while seated, to avoid crowding and longer contacts with other human beings at the stalls.

Prof. Dr. Michael Gekle, dean of the university’s medical faculty, said the experiment generated data that’ll allow politicians to make decisions based on scientific evidence. He thanked the participants for generating data that should benefit people all over Germany and the world, who would like to go to indoor concerts and sports events again.
And he thanked the state governments of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt for financing the experiment.
Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann, the science minister in Saxony-Anhalt, said the event industry needed insights and concepts with which to realize concerts, festivals or exhibitions in a responsible manner despite Corona, adding that the researches of Halle University pioneered in that regard.
He left out the fact that the professionals working in this sector have been coming up with safe, sound, and scientifically approved concepts for months now. Real veterans of the game, who were instrumental in building this business from scratch, have tried to realize events in line with Covid restrictions, only to be met with even tougher restrictions at the last minute that made the execution of events unviable. 
One of Germany’s most successful promoters, who wished not to remain anonymous, told Pollstar from his experiences talking to politicians. He came to the conclusion that most politicians were simply afraid to make a decision – like setting a reopening date, which live professionals all over the world have been demanding above all else from their respective governments.
He said that his concepts to bring back audiences safely, in line with government restrictions, got approved by health experts many times. Since politicians, however, are motivated by votes, their main goal during this crisis was to avoid decisions that could be interpreted as wrong in the aftermath. This, however, led to a state of paralysis in times when urgent action was needed.