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Following four pilot events without social distancing in Liverpool, that were collectively attended by 13,258 people, Liverpool Public Health officials and scientists said they have found no detectable spread of Covid-19 in the region.

At the Sefton Park Pilot music festival, two nightclub events hosted by Circus and The Good Business Festival, attendees were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the event, and encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later. The events were part of the Government’s Events Research Programme.

Liverpool City Council said the process identified four people as possibly having the virus at an event; and a further seven people were identified with the virus four to seven days after they attended an event. Of those who tested positive – two attended the music festival, nine attended the nightclub and none attended the business festival. Many of the cases were friends who meet outside of events and may not have been infected at an event itself.

It said scientists found the testing, data and contact tracing systems worked well, with key information being available to public health teams before the events which allowed contacts of potential cases to be traced quickly.

The research team also found that between 25% and 43% of people returned a PCR test after the event, with the Sefton Park Pilot festival seeing three times the number of the other Liverpool pilots due to the incentive of winning tickets to future gigs.

Every Covid-19 test result for the 2.6m population of Cheshire and Merseyside was examined before and after the events, with 96% of tickets linked to test results. The results showed there was no evidence of any substantial spread of the virus around the pilot events.

The Council said Covid-19 infections remain low in Liverpool and the pattern of variants is being watched carefully.

Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool room for improvements were identified: “Such as ensuring people do not attend if they feel even slightly unwell – not just those with classic symptoms of Covid-19; maximising ventilation even in large indoor spaces; incentives to return PCR tests for research purposes; and automating the issue of tickets only after an assured negative test in the day running up to the event.

Liverpool’s director of public health Matt Ashton said, “Working in partnership with the University of Liverpool and with promoters, we have developed Covid-safe protocols which will now be shared to help inform the wider sector.

“I’m proud of our role in this project and we look forward to seeing how our findings shape national policy.”