Business Insider / James Pasley
German scientists are throwing a concert — using fog machines, fluorescent hand sanitizer, and contact tracer devices — to work out if it’s possible to hold large indoor events during the pandemic without spreading the coronavirus.
Scientists from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) are calling for 4,000 people to head to an indoor stadium in Leipzig to see German pop singer Tim Bendzko on August 22, as part of a $1.1 million project called Restart-19.
MLU head of clinical infectious diseases, Stefan Mortiz, who is coordinating the experiment, told The Guardian: “We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organizers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss.”
On MLU’s website, it states banning crowds to lower the risk of the coronavirus spreading has become “an existential threat for many athletes and artists, who depend on their audience for income,” according to Deutsche Welle.
Large crowds at official events have been rare since the pandemic hit.
Earlier this month, New Zealand hosted a rugby match with 20,000 attendees, and last month President Donald Trump held a rally in Tulsa with about 6,200 attendees in June, but large events have mostly been canceled to avoid the coronavirus from spreading, The Guardian reported.
Willing participants for Restart-19 must be aged between 18 and 50 and test negative for the coronavirus 48 hours before the experiment.
The participants, all wearing masks, will experience three concerts — one without social distancing, one with a slower entry and more focused on hygiene, and a final version where participants will sit far enough away from each other to maintain social distancing.
Information will be provided to scientists in a number of ways, including participants transmitting data every 5 seconds about where they are in the stadium, using an electronic contact tracer.
They will use fluorescent hand sanitizer so that scientists with UV lights will be able to see what surfaces have been touched and “become particularly dangerous,” according to MLU’s website.
A fog machine will be pumping out fog to help visualize how the coronavirus could spread by aerosols.
According to MLU’s website, the risk of getting COVID-19 by attending the concert will be “very low,” but it does not guarantee that it’s completely risk-free.
As of July 21, 878 people had registered for the concert.
If all goes well, the scientists aim to present their findings based on the data in October.