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This huge music festival is just one big COVID-19 science experiment

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Bare-mouthed Brits are partying like their lives depend on it.

A multi-event festival took place over the weekend as part of ongoing research organized by the UK’s Events Research Programme to examine the risk of coronavirus transmission in large public gatherings.

Admission to the state-sponsored events required proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to attendance, plus health monitoring after the shows, adding much-needed data as many nations prepare to resume social life in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Masks and vaccines were not required for entry.

The pilot events over the weekend saw more than 10,000 maskless revelers from Liverpool descend on their city for what included two indoor raves and an outdoor concert.

concert at Sefton Park, as part of the UK's Events Research Programme (ERP)
Some 5,000 unmasked music fans gathered at a Sefton Park arena in Liverpool, England, on Sunday as part of the UK’s Events Research Programme.
AP

About 3,000 packed into Liverpool’s warehouse-arena Bramley-Moore Dock on both Friday and Saturday nights. Acts included headliner Fatboy Slim and other electronic musicians.

Despite the indoor setting, guests were not required to wear masks. On Sunday, some 5,000 turned up at a Sefton Park stage to watch British indie rockers Blossoms, the Lathums and singer-songwriter Zuzu.

“Today is a momentous occasion to celebrate as fans get their first taste of a music festival for more than a year — and all in the name of science,” said Minister of Culture Caroline Dinenage in a statement on Sunday.

A soccer cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium on April 24 was also included in the ERP’s study, garnering another 8,000 research participants and sports fans, as well as events to come such as the BRIT Awards in London on May 11.

check-in for concert at Sefton Park, as part of the UK's Events Research Programme (ERP)
Admission to the state-sponsored events required proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to attendance, plus health monitoring after the show.
EPA

“We’re one step closer to a summer of live events now our science-led program is underway,” said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in a separate statement. “Testing different settings and looking at different mitigations is key to getting crowds back safely and the Sefton Park pilot is an important addition to the program.”

Added Liverpool’s director of public health, Matt Ashton, “This data can then be used to help shape how the entire events sector can safely reopen, both locally and nationally.”

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