The coronavirus pandemic has essentially frozen the live music industry until a vaccine becomes widely available. It’s easy to understand why considering science has proven that the virus spreads faster in indoor environments and shows have long been a breeding ground for excessive spit, snot, and germs. Now, some German scientists have decided to throw a concert “experiment” to test just how rapidly COVID-19 spreads in a live music environment… and you could be their lucky volunteer!
The project is called Restart-19 and it’s currently scheduled for August 22nd at the Leipzig Concert Hall, a seated venue that’s previously hosted shows by Bob Dylan and Britney Spears. The “experiment” will see 4,200 healthy people attend a live concert by Tim Bendzko, a popular German singer, reports BrooklynVegan. So far over a thousand volunteers have signed up, which means there’s room for more to attend. All you need to do to go is prove you’re between the ages of 18 and 50, test negative to COVID-19, and register at the project’s website.
If all goes according to plan, then Restart-19 will begin by having all volunteers tested again for the virus. From there, volunteers will be instructed to wear masks and enter the venue. Everyone will have wearable devices that “transmit data every five seconds, including proximity to other devices and location within the venue” as well as bottles of fluorescent disinfectant that allow researchers to see which surfaces have been touched and, therefore, become “particularly dangerous.” While Bendzko performs live onstage, a fog machine will be running in the room to assess the possibility of the virus spreading through aerosols.
Restart-19 is expected to cost roughly €990,000. It’s being funded by by the German states Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt in addition to the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The organizers have said they hope it will help “identify a framework” for the ways in which large music, entertainment, and sporting events can be held “without posing a danger for the population” after September.
One of the scientists, Stefan Moritz, who’s also the head of clinical infectious diseases at the University hospital in Halle, sat down with The Guardian to talk a bit more about the experiment and explain why they decided to do it in the first place. “We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organizers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss,” said Moritz. Here’s hoping it goes as planned.
Editor’s Note: Stay safe by picking up one of our custom face masks. A portion of the proceeds will benefit MusiCares’ COVID-19 Artist Relief fund supporting independent musicians.