Data from 37 UK ERP pilots proves mass participation events can be run safely

Latitude Festival

The UK Government said data from 37 trial events that took place during a four-month period as part of its Events Research Programme shows that mass participation events are safe to attend but caution is required.

It said the data has shown that Covid-19 case numbers were “largely in line with or below” community infection rates for the duration of the pilot events programme.

Four ERP events have been associated with more than 1,000 cases; Euro 2020 final (Italy vs England on 11 July), a Euro 2020 semi-final (England vs Denmark on 7 July), Latitude Festival (cap. 40,000) and Tramlines Festival (40,000).

Government said the events took place during a period of “higher underlying community prevalence” and that the football matches drew significant numbers of ticketless individuals to the area surrounding Wembley Stadium, likely contributing to the increased infections data around the events.

According to NHS Test and Trace data for the Euro 2020 final, 2,295 people in or around the stadium were likely to have been infectious at the time of the event, with an additional 3,404 people in and around the stadium potentially acquiring infection around the time of the event.

Public Health England deputy medical director Dr Jenifer Smith said Euro 2020 was a unique occasion and it is unlikely a similar impact on Covid-19 cases will be seen from future events.

The data shows 585 cases were recorded by NHS Test and Trace at the time of the British Grand Prix, which hosted the largest crowd in the UK in more than 18 months with over 350,000 people in attendance across three days.

When broken down, the 585 cases from the Grand Prix show that 343 of those cases were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, while 242 cases are from people likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event.

In England over this period 1.36-1.57% of people were testing positive for Covid-19, which equates to between 1/75 to 1/65 people.

Data from The Wimbledon Championships, which hosted around 300,000 tennis fans during a two-week period, recorded 881 Covid-19 cases through NHS Test and Trace. Government said some 299 cases were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, with 582 cases likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event. In England over this time period, 0.31-1.36% of people were testing positive for Covid-19, which equates to between 1/320 and 1/75 people.

Government said a cautious approach should be taken at unstructured events involving attendees being in close proximity for extended periods of time, when spectators are at high-density pinch points at venues, when travelling to and from events, and when mixing indoors before, during and after events.

It has made available an online ERP Data Dashboard that shows how many people with positive PCR test results (cases), reported through the NHS Test and Trace system, reported that they had attended an event that was part of the Programme.

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said, “We’ve shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings.

“So that we can keep the football season, theatres and gigs safe with full crowds this winter, I urge sport, music and culture fans to get the vaccine as this is the safest way we can get big events firing on all cylinders once more.”

ERP events included:

World Snooker Championships, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield: 17 April – 3 May
FA Cup Semi Final and Final, Wembley Stadium, London: 18 April – 15 May
Carabao Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London: 25 April
The Good Business festival ‘Change For Good’ business event: 28 April
Circus Nightclub, Liverpool: 30 April – 1 May
Sefton Park Pilot (live music event), Liverpool: 2 May
The BRIT Awards, London: 11 May
Reunion Run, Kempton: 15 May
Cricket, Edgbaston, Birmingham : 10 – 13 June
Royal Ascot (horse racing), Berkshire: 15 – 19 June
Download Festival, Leicestershire: 18 – 20 June
Cricket, Durham: 29 June
UEFA Euro 2020 (7 matches including Semi Final and Final), Wembley Stadium: 13 June – 11 July
Cricket, Oval, London: 1 July
Cricket, Bristol: 4 July
Performances at The Grange Opera Festival, Hampshire: 1 – 18 July
The Championships, Wimbledon (tennis), London: 28 June – 11 July
Goodwood Festival of Speed, West Sussex: 8 – 11 July
Cricket, Lord’s, London: 11 July
Opera North, Leeds Playhouse, Yorkshire: 14 – 17 July
Cricket, Edgbaston, Birmingham: 13 July
The Open Championships, Kent: 11 – 18 July
Performances at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester: 14 – 17 July
The British Grand Prix, Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire: 14 – 18 July
Cricket, Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire: 16 July
The Challenge Cup Final, Rugby League, Wembley Stadium, London: 17 July
Performances at The Piccadilly Theatre, London: 17 – 23 July
Cricket, Headingley, Yorkshire: 18 July
Home and Gift Buyers Festival, Harrogate, Yorkshire: 18 – 21 July
Latitude Festival, Southwold, Suffolk: 22 – 25 July
Tramlines Festival, Sheffield, Yorkshire: 23 – 25 July