Data from a German study on social-distance concerts is now available

Before the fall spike in COVID-19 cases across Europe, it looked like some countries had things under control. During those optimistic weeks, there was a study in Germany on how live concerts might return conducted by medical scientists at Halle University.

Some 1,500 people are invited to participate in the study by going to a concert at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig back on August 22. Everyone wore contract-tracing devices designed to learn how people moved within the venue as well as what they touched and came into contact with. Researchers also used fog machines to track airflow within the arena, hoping to understand the risk of droplet transmission.

Pollstar reports on the results, which came out last Thursday: “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.” Okay, good news.

“Most contacts take place during entry and breaks [in the performance], 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 for airflow, their fog experiment “demonstrated how a change in the setting of the escape nozzles, for instance from facing up to facing down, changes the airflow.” The data seems to suggest that this is one of the biggest things that can be done to reduce transmission risk.

More data analysis still needs to be done, but so far, the results seem useful. Read the whole report here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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