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BARCELONA, Spain: Mid-sized cultural events could be held without social distancing — but with other precautions — after a pilot concert attended by 4,500 mask-wearing Spaniards who’d been screened for COVID-19 produced no significant outbreaks, event organizers argued Tuesday. The medical team from a local hospital that oversaw the health protocols for last month’s Barcelona show said an analysis of health data revealed six positive cases in the two weeks following the event among people who had attended the concert.
Organizers said none of the infected people required hospitalization and that four of them said that they believed the origin of their infection was from some place other than the concert. According to doctor Josep Maria Llibre, the six infections are fewer than the average contagion spread for Barcelona at the time. He said the six infections would extrapolate to an incidence of 131 cases per 100,000 people, when the city-wide tally over that same period was 260 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Health authorities gave special permission to allow up to 5,000 people into the show by Spanish rock group Love of Lesbian. Ticket-buyers underwent a same-day antigen test. If negative, they were allowed into the show that had no social distancing rules but did require the use of high-quality facemasks.
Barcelona local authorities were also present on Tuesday when the results were presented. A group of concert organizers behind the initiative described it as a pilot program to help restart cultural events with the sector suffering after a year of pandemic restrictions. “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” organizer Jordi Herreruela said about the results. Also in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia, the city of Girona is experimenting with a similar initiative to help hard-hit restaurants recover some business and people start venturing out. Girona, a city of 100,000, near the French border, is in the second week of its “Open Girona” scheme, whereby people can go to select restaurants and other events after verifying they are low-risk for infections. Using a phone app, participants either provide proof of being vaccinated, having had the virus at some point, or a negative antigen test taken at a specified pharmacy. Once cleared, users can dine at designated restaurants and attend select concerts and sporting events.