Covid-19 events

Covid rapid test initiative aims to speed up spectators' return to big events

A file photo of a football match at the Johan Cruijff ArenA. A Fieldlab Events study will be conducted at the stadium during a match on March 27.
A file photo of a football match at the Johan Cruijff ArenA. A Fieldlab Events study will be conducted at the stadium during a match on March 27. MAURICE VAN STEEN ANP/AFP

Fieldlab events, a joint initiative undertaken by events sector in the Netherlands and the government, is to conduct a study during a football match between the Netherlands and Latvia on Saturday in the hope of developing a rapid test procedure to speed up the return of sports fans and spectators.

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"The study will focus on testing policy (rapid testing) and the use of the CoronaCheck App, which will be used to check whether visitors have negative test results," according to the Dutch football federation, which said it "could play a role in speeding up the return of spectators to stadiums and other events in a safe and responsible manner".

As a part of the study, 5,000 spectators will be able to attend Saturday's football match at the Johan Cruijff ArenA under strict conditions, making it Fieldlab's largest study.

Several research bubbles will be set up during the match. According to a release on the stadium's website: "Each bubble will be used to test potential risks and behavioural factors concerning the return of spectators to large-scale events, without respecting the 1.5-metre rule.

"For instance, by exploring various seating possibilities, the order in which spectators enter, diverse seating patterns and the separation of spectators upon arrival." 

One of the bubbles will contain a research project by TU Eindhoven which will look at "the build-up of aerosol concentrations in stadiums, and the effectiveness of measures aimed at reducing aerosol concentrations."

Fieldlab events said the initiative was inspired by the need to overcome limitations in the events sector due to Covid-19 measures.

"It is important that scientific measures are validated in the shortest possible period in real-life settings, in actual pilots during live events; in a controlled, safe and reliable manner," the group said.

"The scientific validation and the lessons learned from the on-site pilots can help the industry to refine and nuance the testing frameworks of central government and create proposals for the Corona roadmap."

Another Fieldlab events study was held during a dance festival in the province of Flevoland in the Netherlands.

The festival saw participation of around 1,500 visitors who had tested negative for Covid-19. Access to the festival was allowed by scanning QR codes (in the government's Covid-19 app) that represented the negative test results. 

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