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AccorArena plans ahead after staging test gig for 5,000

AccorArena in Paris is formulating plans for the resumption of large-scale events after staging France’s first trial concert.

Some 5,000 people attended a gig featuring rock band Indochine, as part of a trial organised by music industry union Prodiss and Assistance publique-hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).

While attendees had to wear masks, no social distancing rules applied. Those attending Saturday’s gig had to take a COVID-19 test in the three days before and on the day, and will be tested seven days later.

The ‘Ambition Live Again’ study also includes a control group of 2,500 people who did not attend the gig, with results from the two groups to be compared by scientists.

Artificial intelligence was used to monitor the gig attendees’ behaviour and respect of protocol, such as whether they kept their masks on.

Nicolas Dupeux, director general of AccorArena, took to LinkedIn to thank those attending and Indochine.

“We are now looking forward to the results of the study and we are already planning for the start of the new school year with the resumption of concerts and a magnificent programme,” Dupeux wrote.

“Concert halls have been closed since March 2020, that’s unfair. We wanted to assess what scientific response we could bring,” said Angelo Gopée, director general of Live Nation France.

“We want to model a protocol applicable to any pandemic, so that we never have to close our venues again.”

The first results of the ‘Ambition Live Again’ study are expected at the end of June and should help authorities optimise health protocols at future events. Researchers said the primary outcome will be the number of participants in each of the two groups with a positive RT-PCR saliva test result seven days after the date of the event.

“The objective is to show that there is no difference between the two groups,” said Professor Jean-Marc Treluyer, a researcher at the AP-HP.

The trial was authorised by the Committee for the Protection of Persons, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and health products and the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms.

The trial was open to those aged 18 to 45 who had no symptoms or contact with people with COVID for two weeks.

Plans for trials in Paris, Marseille and Montpellier were revealed in early May, but the latter two have since been cancelled. The Marseille event was cancelled due to risks linked to the proposed health protocols, while plans for a gig at a small Montpellier venue this weekend have been scrapped due to a lack of eligible volunteers.

Ahead of Saturday’s event, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo blamed “bureaucracy” for delaying the start of similar trials in France, with nations such as the UK holding multiple trial events in recent months.