Event research programme publishes final reports


November 29, 2021

The UK government has published its final reports from the Events Research Programme (ERP).

The ERP ran for four months and encompassed 31 pilots, including music events such as Sefton Park Pilot music festival in Liverpool, the BRIT Awards, Latitude, Tramlines and Download, as well as the Euro 2020 football tournament and Silverstone Grand Prix. Events were grouped according to type: indoor seated, mainly outdoor seated, mainly outdoor semi-seated and mainly outdoor unseated.

The report noted that improvements to air quality – either by improving ventilation or reducing crowding – can be made to mitigate the risk of airborne transmission.

“It was found that high crowding can be maintained without significant negative impact on air quality, in settings such as open-sided marquees or sheltered outdoor seating which have very high levels of natural ventilation,” it says. “Improvements can be made in indoor settings; opening windows, doors or adding fans strategically can increase air quality. However, reducing overcrowding was found to be more immediately impactful on air quality.”

It concluded that “outdoor unstructured ERP events, specifically festivals”, posed the highest increased transmission risk from events examined as part of the scheme, with a 1.7 fold increased risk of Covid-19 transmission among attendees. Potential reasons include “behaviour whilst at the event, overall event size and duration or mode of travel to and from the event”.

Commenting on the findings, Paul Reed, CEO of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals, says: “Since emerging from restrictions earlier this year, festival organisers across the UK who were able to stage an event implemented a range of measures to mitigate the transmission of Covid-19, with over 70% implementing full certification according to our data. This went far beyond what was mandated by government at the time.

“Our members will continue to go above and beyond and we continue to liaise with government and wider industry on recommended best practices. The safety of audiences will, as ever, be of paramount concern as they plan for the 2022 season.”


Across all events, 87% of people with a positive Covid-19 test result during the study period were unvaccinated, 8% reported having a single dose and 5% reported two doses.

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, chair of ERP science board, says: “We have gathered large amounts of data that can be used by the scientific community worldwide, event organisers and government for the best understanding to date of the risk of transmitting coronavirus at live events and how we can best keep this risk low.”

“The Events Research Programme broke new ground on the size and scale of scientific research undertaken at live events and has undoubtedly contributed to the early reopening of our crucial business, sporting and cultural events sectors,” adds Nigel Huddleston, minister for sport, tourism, heritage and civil society.

“The programme has provided an important template for event organisers the world over to continue to be able to plan their events safely and that’s great credit to the scientists behind this world-leading study.”

Elsewhere, results of the clinical trial organised by French live music association Prodiss and Paris hospital AP-HP under the banner ‘Ambition Live Again’, have been published in UK-based medical journal, The Lancet.

The findings from the 29 May test concert at the Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris with DJ Etienne de Crécy and the band Indochine showed that attending a concert was not associated with an increased risk of transmission when certain hygiene and testing protocols are followed.

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