Study: There Actually Is a Way for Music Venues to Be Relatively Coronavirus-Safe

The key is to wear a mask

A general crowd view during the sold out 'Castaway Unlocked' event at HBF Stadium on July 18, 2020 in Perth, Australia. The WA Unlocked event is the first live music concert to be held in Western Australia since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed do to the global coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/Getty Images)
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The live music industry has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in part to the assumption that there’s no way for an indoor concert to be held safely until the vaccine has been widely dispersed and led to herd immunity.

But a new study out of Germany indicates that we may not have to wait that long, because the risk of spreading COVID-19 at an indoor music venue is low — provided, of course, that the venue has a good ventilation system and all attendees are wearing masks.

The study took place at Germany’s 1,500-seat Konzerthaus Dortmund, and it was carried out over the course of three days in November to analyze the movement of airborne particles during an indoor concert. Researchers used a high-tech dummy to simulate human breathing in the venue and found that the risk of infecting someone “through aerosol transmission can be almost ruled out” if everyone inside is wearing a mask. Of course, that’s a big “if” — to be absolutely clear, the safety of these shows hinges upon everyone complying with mask rules, and the study is not claiming that unmasked audiences are safe.

“Concert halls and theaters are not places of infection,” Dr Raphael von Hoensbroech, director of Konzerthaus Dortmund, said. “The past few months have shown that politics needs a scientifically sound basis for decision-making. With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theaters may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

“There is no argument for not having such a concert,” Dr. Michael Gekle added. “The risk of getting infected is very low.”

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