UK music venues are set to trial a new system of digital “health passports” in a bid to reopen live gigs safely.
- READ MORE: When and how could gigs and festivals return in 2021? Industry insiders tell us what to expect
After the coronavirus pandemic made the majority of live gigs impossible over the past 10 months – bar some socially distanced shows outside of lockdown – the industry is now looking for ways to reopen live music in a safe manner. Now, it’s been announced that start-up company You Check will be trialling a new digital health passport app – collaborating with the Music Venue Trust in tests that they are looking to run with the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The app was originally designed as a ticket/ID system to combat touts, as well as a means of communication between show audiences and fans. It has since been adapted to connect with test, track and trace software.
“We’re working, not exclusively, with Innova in terms of testing – technology that looks for a viral load high enough to be contagious with 97 per cent plus accuracy,” You Check COO Fred Krefting told Event Industry News. “With COVID the incubation period is two to five days. For the honeymoon phase after the test, it’s the shorter the better, which means you’re good to go to a show for 48 hours.”
The trials are currently planned at London’s 100 Club and The Exchange in Bristol for March with events at 25 per cent capacity with two sets of tests on the same people, before trialling at other spaces across the country with a hope to gradually building up capacity.
“You Check’s identity first solution has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk,” said Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd.
“It has a fast and thorough authentication process which enables health information to be stored against portable digital identity and Music Venue Trust is pleased to be working with You Check to explore how this technology might form part of a comprehensive process which enables us to reopen every venue safely and revive live.”
This comes after it was announced that The 100 Club is also set to pilot a new ventilation system that aims to wipe out 99.99 per cent of dangerous airborne pathogens, such as coronavirus, within buildings. The aim of the trial is “to prove that the integration of this new system into a building’s air conditioning creates an indoor environment that is COVID-secure, allowing audience numbers to return to a pre-pandemic normal for Britain’s 1,100 theatres and thousands of live music venues”.
While Glastonbury 2021 was recently cancelled, it is hoped that smaller grassroots gigs can return as soon as Spring provided that safety measures are met.
“Once we’ve established that we can run events that have a higher level of risk management, then you can go back to government with science to say that you can go back to full capacity,” Davyd previously told NME. “People are catastrophising, saying that nothing will go back to normal until next year. I don’t see that as being the outcome. I think it’s going to require some ingenuity and inventiveness, but it is possible to continue to imagine how we get back.”
“If the infection rate is reduced quite substantially, or the mortality rate through the vaccine, then there isn’t a logical, scientific or mathematical reason why you wouldn’t be able to do small capacity gigs in music venues this year. The same doesn’t go for all capacity gigs, as it’s all about risk management. Bringing 500 people together is less of a risk than bringing 5000 people together.”
For larger events, major festival bosses have told NME that they hope to be able to go ahead this summer provided that vaccination targets are met and that speed testing improves, while medical experts said that they would hope for at least 60 per cent of the population to be vaccinated before large gatherings can take place.
Primavera Sound festival’s recent trial for the return of gigs with no social distancing but same-day antigen testing found no infection rate, while a study in Germany last year found a “low to very low risk” or coronavirus spreading at indoor gigs – concluding that “good ventilation and social distancing are key”. This month will see a similar experiment take place in Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, yesterday saw 13 more UK grassroots music venues saved from imminent and critical risk of closure, buying them some safety until gigs can hopefully return safely this Spring.