Data from NHS Test and Trace shows that mass participation events can be conducted safely, but caution must still be taken around specific aspects of event participation.
The data, drawn from a range of the 37 trial events that have formed the Events Research Programme over a four month period, has shown that case numbers were largely in line with or below community infection rates for the duration of the programme.
However, a cautious approach should be taken at unstructured events involving attendees being in close proximity for extended periods of time, when spectators are at high-density pinch points at venues, when travelling to and from events, and when mixing indoors before, during and after events.
Figures published today show that 585 cases were recorded by NHS Test and Trace at the time of the British Grand Prix, which hosted the largest crowd in the UK in over 18 months with over 350,000 people in attendance across three days.
When broken down, the 585 cases from the Grand Prix show that 343 of those cases were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, while 242 cases are from people likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event.
In England over this period 1.36-1.57% of people were testing positive for COVID-19, which equates to between 1/75 to 1/65 people.
Data from The Wimbledon Championships, which hosted around 300,000 people over a two week period, recorded 881 cases through NHS Test and Trace.
This data breaks down to 299 cases that were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event, with 582 cases likely to have acquired an infection around the time of the event. In England over this time period 0.31-1.36% of people were testing positive for COVID-19, which equates to between 1/320 and 1/75 people.
The data from these two events, alongside the majority of others conducted as part of the Events Research Programme, demonstrate that mass participation events can be conducted safely, with case numbers comparable to, or lower than community prevalence. It is however, important to note that when observing this data, assumptions cannot be made that transmission definitely happened at the event, nor that individuals became infected at the time of their attendance at an event.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said:
The two EURO 2020 matches on July 7 and 11 were events of national significance in England. They took place during a period of higher underlying community prevalence, and drew significant numbers of ticketless individuals to the area surrounding Wembley Stadium, likely contributing to the increased infections data around these events.
The associated Public Health England / NHS Test and Trace data for the EURO 2020 final shows that 2,295 people in or around the stadium were likely to have been infectious at the time of the event, with an additional 3,404 people in and around the stadium potentially acquiring infection around the time of the event.
Dr Jenifer Smith, Deputy Medical Director, Public Health England, said:
The significant numbers of people seen outside Wembley Stadium at the Euro 2020 Final, and the events taking place under Step 4 are likely to make comparisons with the other ERP events misleading. As set out in the PHE research paper, while useful for informing the approach to managing risks at major sports events, these games are not considered typical of standard sporting events and should not be used as comparators.
On the days of England’s latter EURO 2020 matches, data published by PHE shows there were subsequent spikes in cases across the country. The data shows that individuals tested positive reported participating in a variety of activities including visiting bars, pubs, other households and eating out on match days. This data highlights the need for members of the public to remain cautious in all settings, whether that be at an event, in homes, pubs or bars when coming together with family, friends or other members of the public.
The Latitude and Tramlines festivals took place after Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown on July 21, when community prevalence rates were higher. The data published from these events shows they have been associated with a higher number of cases (over 1,000 per event) through NHS Test and Trace data.