Pilot social events held in Liverpool did not significantly impact COVID-19 infection rates in the region, officials have confirmed.
Following four events held as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP), Liverpool Public Health officials and scientists found that the city’s pilot events did not cause any detectable spread of COVID-19 in the area.
The events took place between 28th April to 2nd May, with a total of 13,258 people attending The Good Business Festival, two nightclub events hosted by Circus, and the Sefton Park Pilot music festival. Attendees of all the events were not required to wearing face coverings or maintain social distancing.
Strict testing measures
Condition of entry to the events relied on a negative result from a lateral flow test taken prior to the event. Five people with the COVID-19 virus were identified through this process and were told not to attend.
Ticketholders were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later.
During this process, four people were identified as possibly having the virus at an event; and a further seven people were identified with the virus four to seven days after they attended and event. Of those who tested positive, two attended the music festival, nine attended the nightclub and none attended the business festival. Many of the cases were friends who met outside of events and may not have been infected at an event itself.
Everyone who tested positive was followed up by the contact tracing team. Scientists found the testing, data, and contact tracing systems worked well, with key information being available to public health teams before the events.
The research team also found that between 25% and 43% of people returned a PCR test after the event, with the Sefton Park Pilot festival seeing three times the number of the other Liverpool pilots due to the incentive of winning tickets to future gigs.
Low infection rate
Every COVID-19 test result for the 2.6m population of Cheshire and Merseyside was examined before and after the events, with 96% of tickets linked to test results. The results showed there was no evidence of any substantial spread of the virus around the pilot events.
COVID-19 infections remain low in Liverpool and the pattern of variants is being closely monitored.
Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said: “The Events Research Programme in Liverpool demonstrated the importance of close working between events organisers, local public health teams, and eventgoers in delivering the COVID safety net needed to make events as safe as possible over the coming months.
“Timely data and quick action to trace and test contacts of people testing positive, both before and after events, was key to containing potential outbreaks – a job that teams at Liverpool City Council did extremely well.
“We identified room for improvements, such as ensuring people do not attend if they feel even slightly unwell – not just those with classic symptoms of COVID-19: maximising ventilation even in large indoor spaces; incentives to return PCR tests for research purposes; and automating the issue of tickets only after an assured negative test in the day running up to the event.
“There is more to learn from improved COVID safety measures as we welcome events back, and Liverpool will keep producing the evidence needed to secure enjoyment of events for us all.”
Other events as part of the ERP included the FA Cup Final and the Caraboa Cup Final, both held at Wembley Stadium, London.