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Study Examines COVID-19 Spread At Large Gatherings


By Dan Weltin IAQ
crowded room

With COVID-19 still raging, mass gatherings have been put on pause for fear of them becoming super-spreader events. Facility managers at arenas, stadiums, universities and other facilities have been wondering when it will be safe to hold large-scale gatherings again. The answer, according to one study, may be sooner than expected. 

Earlier this fall, a team of scientists conducted the “Restart-19” study to collect data on large indoor gatherings, such as sporting events and concerts. 

To test, more than 1,200 individuals attended a concert in the Leipzig Arena. All participants and staff tested negative for COVID-19 48 hours before the event and wore N95 masks during the concert. 

Three different scenarios were tested: 

• No restrictions (the pre-pandemic setting)

• Moderate restrictions (checkerboard pattern seating, twice as many entrances 

• Strong restrictions (social distancing and four times as many entrances)

Research found that these events have low to very low impact as long as facilities have adequate ventilation, strict hygiene protocols, and limited capacity, according to The New York Times.

However, facility managers looking forward to welcoming fans at the next football game or  concert should still be patient. The study has not been peer reviewed and some argue that the scenario should be replicated and studied more before allowing large gatherings again. 

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief of the Facility Market. 

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