Virus: life-size test in Germany to authorize concerts

BERLIN | Is it possible to re-authorize popular concerts despite COVID-19? The German University of Halle conducted a gigantic life-size experiment on Saturday with more than 2,000 participants in an attempt to answer it.

• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic

A popular singer famous in Germany, Tim Bendzko, agreed to take part in this test by giving three mini-concerts in different formats in Leipzig during the day, with more or less spectators and distances between them or hygiene measures .

Objective: to give researchers the opportunity to determine what could be the best possible organization to avoid contamination. This is the largest type experiment carried out in Germany.

Only young and healthy people were accepted to try to limit the risk of contamination during these experiments.

“This project must lay the groundwork for a German-wide restart of the entertainment sector, as it is particularly affected by the restrictive measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the regional science minister of the region of Saxony-Anhalt, Armin Willigmann, on the local TV channel MDR.

The region subsidizes research to the tune of one million euros.

It all took place in a large concert hall in Leipzig.

Volunteers who came to the concerts were required to test negative recently for the novel coronavirus and had their temperature taken on entry.

“Laboratory rat”

They were also all wearing an FFP2-type mask and a device that tracked all their movements and contacts inside.

“There, I really realized that I was acting as a laboratory rat”, commented on MDR one of the volunteers, Robert Siemer.

Fluorescent disinfectants also made it possible to observe which surfaces participants touch most often with their hands.

And the university even measured the trajectories of aerosols exhaled by spectators, these small particles, which experts say play a role in the contamination.

Thanks to the data collected, the researchers intend to define a mathematical model to assess the risks of propagation in a large concert hall. The results are to be published in the fall.

They are eagerly awaited by concert organizers and all those working in the cultural and entertainment sector. Most have been unemployed for months.

Large gatherings remain banned until at least the end of October and Chancellor Angela Merkel recently warned that she did not see any room for maneuver to ease restrictions at this time in the face of the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country. .

Germany has recorded more than 2,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, a record high since the end of April, during the peak of the pandemic.

Other projects are under consideration elsewhere in this area.

Experts from the Charité Hospital in Berlin have just presented a concept that could allow the large concert halls of classical music and opera to be fully reopened, with the wearing of masks compulsory for spectators.

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