Barcelona rock concert trial opens door to summer shows

Scientists say Covid risk at 5,000-strong indoor event was extremely low

A trial concert in Barcelona where 5,000 people took rapid Covid-19 tests and crammed into a venue without social distancing did not drive up infections, organisers have announced. Video: Reuters


Scientists say that a trial rock concert held last month in Barcelona to test the spread of Covid-19 at such events was an overwhelming success.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the concert by Catalan indie band Love of Lesbian in the Palau Sant Jordi sports arena on March 27th. They underwent antigen tests at the venue on the day of the concert and were tested in the two weeks afterwards.

The venue was ventilated and those attending had to wear FFP2 masks, but there was no mandatory social distancing.

Only six of the people who attended the concert tested positive in the following two weeks, according to data made public on Tuesday by the project’s researchers. They said that four of those infections were not connected to the event and it was not clear whether or not the other two infections were linked to the concert.

Big concerts

“This data allows us to say that the Palau Sant Jordi concert was not an event causing Covid-19 super-contagion, as indoor events with a large public like this had been deemed until now,” said the researchers in a statement.

The test was overseen by the FLS Foundation, which carries out research into HIV and other infectious diseases. It also received the backing of the local authorities in Barcelona and live music organisers, who are keen to see big concerts go ahead this summer.

Figures from those who attended the concert showed a Covid-19 infection rate of 131 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, much lower than the average of 260 cases among a similar demographic in the Barcelona area on the same date.

‘Solid figures’

Josep Maria Llibre, of Germans Trias i Pujol hospital, who supervised the research, said it also showed that “5,000 people can be tested in one morning, in a fluid way, when scientific publications had said that was not possible”.

He added that “this result will accelerate live music activity because these are very solid figures”.

A number of Spanish music festivals scheduled for this summer have already been cancelled due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Cruïlla, slated for July 8th-10th, is one of the few big festivals which is still due to go ahead, with Northern Irish band Two Door Cinema Club and English outfit Editors on the bill.

“There will be events this summer, with safety measures and the rigorous presence of medical professionals,” the festival’s director, Jordi Herreruela, who was among the Love of Lesbian concert’s promoters, told local media after the scheme’s results were announced.