Indoor concerts are safe from COVID-19 — with a catch, study says

Entertainers have pulled out all the stops to revive the decimated concert industry, from VIP-like boxes to individual bubbles for every attendee.

But breakthrough scientific research might be music to live show lovers’ ears.

Concerts are not be the riskiest endeavors in the age of COVID-19, according to a new study out of Germany which tested attendees at an indoor venue.

The researchers ran simulations based on the behavior of masked participants over a 10-hour span. All the participants tested negative for the virus before joining the experiment. Using computerized models, the researchers tested different scenarios — such as entering and exiting and taking breaks — and looked at everything from airflow to exposure to aerosolized droplets.

In their simulation, the researchers were able to see how even normal ventilation could minimize the amount of potentially-infected particles wafting through the venue. Adding more entrances also helped reduce the risk.

They also found that regular social distancing did a whole lot of good in lowering the risk of contamination — the real life effect of not doing that was seen over the summer at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which scientists have since labeled a “superspreader event.” Densely packed crowds may have contributed to a spike in cases in South Dakota.

But the few extra precautions studied by the German researchers could go a long way in preventing this kind of impact. In all, as long as the ventilation was good, people wore masks and stayed about six feet apart, less than 10 people out of the 1,200 people in the venue were exposed to potentially contaminated particles.

The study, which is not yet peer reviewed, stressed that wearing masks — particularly N95 masks — and socially distancing were still extremely important.

“The expected additional effect of indoor [mass gathering events] on burden of infections is low if hygiene concepts are applied and adequate ventilation exists,” they wrote in the study.

But researchers not associated with the event pointed out that the factors still need to be studied more before we can definitively join a sweaty mosh-pit once again.

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