A group of Barcelona’s leading festival and concert promoters collaborated to stage a 5,000-capacity concert on Saturday, 27 March, with a standing audience and no social distancing.

Doctor Josep Maria Llibre, who led the experiment, told Access that the test concert by the Spanish band Love of Lesbian at Barcelona’s Saint Jordi Arena (cap. 17,000) was carried out under the same conditions as a previous pilot in the city’s Sala Apolo theatre on 12 December, which resulted in none of the 463 attendees being infected with coronavirus.

Saturday’s show saw all attendees provided with, and required to wear, a FFP2 face mask, while measures were taken to enhance the ventilation in the venue, and the crowd was split into three areas but able to move without restrictions.

To gain entry ticket buyers were required to have been tested negative for Covid-19. When tickets were purchased, buyers were required to download a smartphone app that was loaded with their test result, it then generated a QR code that enabled the user to gain access to the show (see below image).

“Everyone was screened in the morning with a rapid test and so inside the concert everyone had been tested negative – not only the fans but all the workers, crew and artists,” said Llibre. “To gain entry they not only needed to show the QR code but also a national identity card featuring a photo of the ticket holder. So it was impossible to manipulate.”

He said that following the show, attendees will be tested again and the results will be analysed to establish whether any infections have resulted from the pilot.

Marking the first concert at the arena since 29 February 2020, the show was an unprecedented collaboration between Barcelona’s biggest concert promoters including Primavera Sound, Sonar, Cruïlla, Vida Festival, Canet Rock and The Project, plus Barcelona’s City Council-owned BSM, which owns the venue. A team of scientists from Hospital Germans Trias and Fundación Lucha contra la Sida worked in partnership with the Health, Security and Culture’s Departments of the Catalan Government.

Llibre says the joy of the band and fans during the show was palpable: “After one year with no live music, the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant. Everyone behaved really well throughout the event, and they were so thankful, it was amazing.”

Read an interview with Doctor Josep Maria Llibre here in which he outlines why the pilot scheme used at the Saint Jordi Arena and Sala Apolo theatre is suitable for festivals.

In the UK, there are no confirmed festival pilot events as part of the Events Research Programme, which will commence in April.