Piloting events towards recovery

Piloting events towards recovery

Thousands of people have been gathering at pilot events at locations around the world recently as part of testing to enable the safe return of live events. We take a look at some of the events that have taken place, plus their safety measures and outcomes…


Two very different test events have taken place in Spain recently; one was a music concert for 5,000 people, the other a business event for just over 300. The music concert in Barcelona required revellers to wear masks and take a Covid test prior to arrival, but once there they did not have to socially distance, and pictures from the event show a normal-looking music concert (apart from the masks).

The MIS (Meeting Incentive Summit) in Madrid was a more sedate affair, but it also required evidence of a negative Covid test 24 hours before, and masks were distributed for attendees to wear throughout the event. In addition, there was physical distancing in place throughout the venue.

Six people tested positive within 14 days of attending the music concert, but the organisers point out that this level is lower than that found in the general population. Researchers also concluded that they were infected elsewhere, not at the event itself. The MIS, whose theme was ‘reactivating the industry’ promise to publish a report on the outcomes of the event soon.

Eric Mottard, Co-Founder and CEO of Grupo eventoplus and organisers of the MIS, said: “A professionally organised meeting is one of the safest places to be: multi-layered security measures, highly responsible attendees, full traceability and antigen tests conducted less than 24 hours before the event; all provide a level of reassurance.


In the UK some 400 delegates attended the conference venue, ACC Liverpool, for the Good Business Festival. The event was part of the UK government’s series of Pilot Events taking place throughout the country, designed to assess different event environments such as sport, music concerts, theatre and of course, business events, and monitor how people behave in them.

Editor of Conference News, Martin Fullard attended the event and reported that the day was reassuringly ‘normal’. Attendees were required to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event, but in contrast to the Spanish events, masks were not required once inside the venue and attendees were encouraged to act naturally so that the scientists in attendance could monitor people’s behaviour in a ‘real-world’ setting.

Attendees took a PCR test a few days after the event, which will be monitored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The data will be analysed at four UK universities as part of the Event Research Programme. This pilot, along with the other confirmed events, will be viewed collectively and inform the recommendations to the government due to be presented in June.


Like the UK government, the Dutch government is also experimenting with leaving masks out of their test events.

In a particularly high-profile test event, the Eurovision Song Contest (May 18-22, Rotterdam) has been granted permission to host 3,500 guests (approximately 20% of Rotterdam Ahoy’s capacity) as the last of 20 experimental events in the Netherlands. All participants will be required to test beforehand, but they will not be expected to social distance or wear masks. They will also need to do follow-up testing five days after the event. Before leaving home, visitors receive triage questions via a special app and those who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 will be asked to stay at home.

The Eurovision Song Contest is part of the Fieldlab Events research programme – a joint initiative between the government of the Netherlands and the Dutch events sector.

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