University research contributes to Government’s Events Research Programme findings

Image from Sefton Park music festival ©Liverpool City Council

Research led by Professor Iain Buchan at the University of Liverpool has helped inform the first phase of the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) which has published its report.

The ERP was commissioned by the Government in February to test how mass gatherings could be held safely, and what measures would help reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

The study gathered significant data on behaviour, movement, ventilation and testing and has shown that with mitigating factors, such as social distancing at pinch points, face coverings and staggered entry and exit times, events can be conducted more safely at increased capacities while maintaining low risk of transmission.

You can read the Government’s Events Research Programme: Phase I finding report here.

The programme involved a total of 58,000 participants at venues across the country including in Liverpool, Sheffield and London.

Professor Buchan and his team, in partnership with Liverpool public health officials, evaluated the four events that took place in the city as part of the ERP programme.

In April and May, a total of 13,258 people attended the four hugely successful Liverpool events – The Good Business Festival, two nightclub events hosted by Circus and the Sefton Park Pilot music festival.

All attendees were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the event – a negative test would allow them access. Five people with the Covid-19 virus were identified through this process and were informed they could not attend. Ticketholders were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later.

There was no detectable spread of Covid-19 across the region following Liverpool’s events. Read the initial findings into the city’s pilot events here.

Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said:

“Audiences contributed to important learning by answering questions, taking tests and allowing us to sample the air they were breathing.

“Partnership was key to success and only 12 people were found to have the Covid virus – half of whom mixed outside of the event.

“Everyone felt safe and had a great time. Hopefully as more of us get vaccinated and the Delta wave subsides, we can all enjoy events like these again soon.”

Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Matt Ashton, said:

“It’s good so see the government has published these results. Our experience in Liverpool was that it is possible to stage really high-quality, Covid-safe events when public health work closely with the local promoters, the culture team and our communities.

“A key part has been communication and engagement with ticketholders and residents, to understand what Covid-safe events look like in the future.

“I’d urge promoters to work with their local public health teams to ensure they are doing everything they can to put on safe events.”

Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan, said:

“Being part of the ERP was a great moment for Liverpool to show the rest of the UK and world that we can do events safely – we have proved that.

“The brilliant work of public health, the University of Liverpool really made sure this city came together to deliver something amazing, under incredibly difficult circumstances.”

Find out more about Professor Iain Buchan’s Covid-19 work.

Explore the wide range of Covid-19 research work going on at the University of Liverpool.