Government data shows mass events can take place safely but fans urged to remain cautious in crowds and get vaccinated

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Data from NHS Test and Trace shows that mass participation events can be conducted safely, but caution must still be taken around specific aspects of event participation.

The data, drawn from a range of the 37 trial events that have formed the Events Research Programme over a four month period, has shown that case numbers were largely in line with or below community infection rates for the duration of the programme.

However, a cautious approach should be taken at unstructured events involving attendees being in close proximity for extended periods of time, when spectators are at high-density pinch points at venues, when travelling to and from events, and when mixing indoors before, during and after events.

Figures published today show that 585 cases were recorded by NHS Test and Trace at the time of the British Grand Prix, which hosted the largest crowd in the UK in over 18 months with over 350,000 people in attendance across three days.

When broken down, the 585 cases from the Grand Prix show that 343 of those cases were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, while 242 cases are from people likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event.

In England over this period 1.36-1.57% of people were testing positive for COVID-19, which equates to between 1/75 to 1/65 people.

Data from The Wimbledon Championships, which hosted around 300,000 people over a two week period, recorded 881 cases through NHS Test and Trace.

This data breaks down to 299 cases that were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, with 582 cases likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event. In England over this time period 0.31-1.36% of people were testing positive for COVID-19, which equates to between 1/320 and 1/75 people.

The data from these two events, alongside the majority of others conducted as part of the Events Research Programme, demonstrate that mass participation events can be conducted safely, with case numbers comparable to, or lower than community prevalence. It is however, important to note that when observing this data, assumptions cannot be made that transmission definitely happened at the event, nor that individuals became infected at the time of their attendance at an event.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We’ve shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings. So that we can keep the football season, theatres and gigs safe with full crowds this winter, I urge sport, music and culture fans to get the vaccine as this is the safest way we can get big events firing on all cylinders once more.”

Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said: “Data is our greatest weapon in the fight against the pandemic, and these pilots inform our approach to mass events, now and in the future. These events and the passion of supporters brought joy to millions of people across the country. But the reports make it clear that they also reinforce the need for us to not let our guard down. We all need to comply with the advice accompanying major events to keep everyone safe and so everyone can safely enjoy these important occasions. We can all keep doing our bit by getting tested regularly and getting the vaccine.”

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