By Sonya Callan

Live music, live band, arena packed with 5000 fans dancing and enjoying themselves, sounds like scenes from 2019 right? No! For 5000 lucky ticketholders this was a Saturday night in late March 2021, the first event of it’s size to take place since the event industry was closed down in 2020.  A trial event run to examine if rapid testing will be the answer to the event industry’s prayers and convince the worlds governments and health officials that large crowds can gather safely.

After the success of a similar event for 500 people that was held in December 2020, the event organisers pushed the boundaries and planned the event for March 2021 where 5000 people would be able to gather together with no social distancing. As with any event of that size there were the usual criteria and elements to be considered but they also took on the additional task of supplying covid antigen testing for all attendees.

In advance of the event each ticketholder had to attend for an antigen test on the morning of the concert. These tests took place in three large venues located around Barcelona and staffed by 80 nurses the testing process was quick and efficient with results sent to each person via an app on their smartphones within 10-15mins of the test being carried out.  By midday they had carried out nearly 2400 tests and only 3 had come back positive, these ticketholders received full refunds for their tickets if they couldn’t attend.

“The real test of the success of the event will show up
in the weeks after.”

As with all large events the usual crowd control measures were in place with additional temperature and ID checks at the door.  Once inside the venue all of the attendees were free to mix and mingle as long as they wore their medical-grade mask which was supplied as part of their ticket.  The atmosphere was electric and emotional as people were able to relax and enjoy the music without the worry of keeping their distance from those around them.  The real test of the success of the event will show up in the weeks after.  As part of the ticket purchase the concert goers had to consent to Spanish health authorities contacting the event organisers should a positive test be confirmed. 

So now the world waits, especially those in the event and music industries.  Event industry officials are well used to considering all health and safety guidelines when planning events so the introduction of a rapid testing system wouldn’t phase the industry at all.  In fact, they would welcome it if it means that events of all sizes can start to be planned for late 2021 and into 2022.