BVEP - Business Visits and Events Partnership

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Events Research Programme Report Published

The Government has published the report for phase 1 of the Events Research Programme (ERP). While additional ERP events continue to gather further evidence, no decisions have been taken on the full reopening of mass events. The government will set out its position on this ahead of Step 4 in the roadmap.

In summary:

The first phase of ERP ran from 17 April-15 May and consisted of nine pilots, some of the pilot events ran across multiple days, in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings, with variations of seated, standing, structured and unstructured audience styles, and a range of participant numbers. The ERP will continue to run pilots as part of Phase II and III of the research programme.

The full report goes into detail 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 a low risk of transmission. Based on findings from Phase I of the ERP, the Government will update existing guidance, including organised events guidance. The guidance will be applicable to any organised event or gathering of any size, both indoors and outdoors.

Key observations from the report include:

  • Outdoor spaces are generally lower risk than indoor spaces. However, all venues are different and may have indoor spaces such as toilets, food/drink concessions and corridors which can pose higher risks.
  • 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, particularly in indoor environments (98.3%) in comparison to events conducted outdoors or with a substantial open air element (92.1%).
  • Pre-event lateral flow testing, questionnaire-based screening and consent to link event booking and test result data, as conditions of admittance to events, were accepted by audiences for most types of events and helped public health teams to respond to any potential outbreaks.
  • Low uptake of PCR testing before and after events meant evidence of direct transmission at events was challenging to determine.

Evidence from ONS’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (survey of 3,810 adults in Great Britain, 28 April to 3 May 2021) suggests the following mitigations will have an effect on attendance:

  • COVID-19 pre-event testing: 15% more likely to attend an event
  • Social Distancing (1m+): 2% less likely to attend an event
  • Face coverings required (2hrs): 28% less likely to attend an event
  • No food/drink allowed at the event: 43% less likely to attend
  • 2-hour delay to enter and exit: 62% less likely to attend an event
  • vaccinated people say they are more likely to attend events with pre-event testing than non-vaccinated people
  • people belonging to an ethnic minority or those aged 16-29 are 8% more likely to attend an event if it has social distancing mitigations in place
  • the availability of food and drink is more important to those in the 16-29 and 30-49 age groups when considering their likelihood of attending an event
  • men are also less likely than women to attend an event where face coverings are required for more than two hours