Insights Government publishes Events Research Programme (ERP) report


Last week, we reported that the Incorporated Society of Musicians had written to the Government asking it to publish the delayed ERP report into COVID-19, and that, separately, the live music industry body LIVE and a range of theatre businesses had begun legal proceedings against the Government to force it to hand over the report of Phase 1 of the ERP.

The Government has now published the Phase 1 report, which found that mitigation measures can be used to reduce and manage risks associated with large events, but that events with high crowd density and proximity could potentially pose a greater transmission risk.

Further ERP events are taking place to gather additional evidence. Therefore, the Government says, no decisions have been taken on the full reopening of mass events. The Government says that it will set out its position on this ahead of Step 4 in the roadmap.

The Government says that the study gathered significant data on behaviour, movement, ventilation and testing, concluding that:

  • both indoor and outdoor events carry levels of transmission risk but pinch points in venues where attendees may congregate for extended periods carry greater transmission risk;
  • large indoor events with high crowd density and proximity may pose a higher potential risk of transmission as a result of close proximity and poor ventilation;
  • mitigations such as face coverings, ventilation, testing, restrictions on food and drink, and social distancing/capacity caps all contributed to reducing transmission risk;
  • compliance with social distancing, face covering, and testing requirements was generally high across all events where they were required (96.2% of people in sampled areas were observed wearing face coverings correctly while seated during the event), particularly in indoor environments (98.3%) in comparison to events conducted outdoors or with a substantial open-air element (92.1%);
  • low uptake of PCR testing before and after events meant evidence of direct transmission at events was challenging to determine; and
  • nearly all CO2 levels recorded at the pilot events were within the bounds of reasonable ventilation benchmarks, outdoor spaces being clearly better for ventilation than indoors.

The Government says that the aim of the review was to build an evidence base to inform how the public could return as safely as possible to attend events such as sport, theatre, live music and business events by conducting pilot events across a range of settings and sectors. Pilots were run in a structured, scientifically and ethically robust way to enable events in the programme to happen at a scale not previously tested since the start of the pandemic.

A second phase of pilot events has also now completed, with group stage UEFA EURO 2020 matches hosted at Wembley Stadium, the Download Pilot music festival, the England v New Zealand test match at Edgbaston and Royal Ascot having taken place. Research into the events is still being gathered and analysed by the ERP science team.

The Government is also currently in discussions with cultural and sporting events to include them in an expanded third phase designed to further trial testing and vaccine status in the form of the NHS COVID Pass (via the NHS App) to allow crowds back safely and efficiently. This third phase includes Wimbledon Championships, The Open Championship, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Latitude and the Grange Opera Festival. Further events will be added in due course. To read the Government’s press release in full and for a link to the full report, click here.