You can now be recruited to go clubbing and test out safe reopening measures

Um, sign me up?

The government is set to start recruiting people to attend packed football matches, cinemas and nightclubs to test if they are safe to reopen as lockdown lifts.

The trials are part of scientific tests under a new government programme, called the Events Research Programme (ERP), before restrictions on mass social gatherings are eased. The pilots programme will be used to provide key scientific data and research into how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen in line with the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown as part of step four, commencing no earlier than 21st June.

So far the pilots include the FA Cup semi final, a club event, a Luna Outdoor Cinema and three 10k runs. The club night will be held in Liverpool, and will include 3,000 attending the event as normal, to see how restrictions and safety measures will need to work.

In stage four of the roadmap, no earlier than 21st June, the government is hoping to remove all legal limits on social contact, including clubs reopening. The full initial list of pilots are:

• 16 April – Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool – 300 people (indoor seated)

• 18 April – FA Cup Semi-Final – Wembley – 4,000 people (outdoor seated)

• 17 April – 3 May – Snooker World Championships – Sheffield Crucible Theatre – up to 1,000 people a day (indoor seated)

• 23-25 April – Luna Outdoor Cinema, Liverpool – 1,000 people (outdoor seated)

• 24-25 April – Three 10k runs – Hatfield Park – 3,000 people and up to 3,000 spectators at each event (outdoor, mass participation run)

• 25 April – Carabao Cup Final, Wembley – 8,000 people (outdoor, seated)

• 28 April – Business Event, Liverpool – 1,000 people (indoor, seated and mixing)

• 30 April – Circus Nightclub, Liverpool – circa 3,000 people (indoor club night)

• 15 May – FA Cup Final, Wembley, London – 21,000 people (outdoor, seated)

As part of the Events Research Programme, volunteers will take coronavirus tests before and after the event or venue they are asked to attend. Air conditioning and extra ventilation will also be trialled to see if they make venues safer.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are all longing to see stadiums full of sporting fans and gigs packed with music lovers, but as we continue the roll out of our vaccination programme, we must find a way to do so safely.

“By piloting a range of measures to reduce transmission, we can gather vital scientific evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future. Thanks to the input of our clinicians and the best science available, we can prepare for the moment where we will be able to gather again in some of our best-loved cultural venues.”

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive for UKHospitality said: “These test pilots are certainly positive news for hospitality, and could start to unlock the safe return of business conferences, festivals, concerts and larger weddings, helping people safely return to normal life from 21st June and the removal of social distancing restrictions. Hospitality is ready to assist in any way it can to help the pilots succeed.”

More information about how to sign up will be released as details become known. 

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