The government-backed pilot required attendees test negative for COVID-19 ahead of the event
While the U.S. continues to ramp up vaccinations among Americans, over in the U.K., they’re hosting a government-backed rave where thousands of mostly young people gathered inside an enclosed warehouse and left masks and social distancing behind. Dubbed “The Last Dance,” the rave took place on Friday night and videos taken from the event have since gone viral on Twitter, eliciting super-divisive reactions.
On April 30, a reported 6,000 non-masked people attended the rave held at Bramley-Moore Dock warehouse in Liverpool. The event is part of the government’s Events Research Program (ERP), which is intended to provide scientific data to help officials plan how nightclubs and live events could return to the UK area this summer.
“[This event is] about demonstrating our absolute commitment that we can and will open on June 21st,” Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn said in a statement, per CNN. “We want to get festival fans back at events safely this year. We all need a summer of live music.”
According to Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Matt Ashton, the rave — the first legal club night in Britain since the onset of the pandemic — gives a “glimpse of what we think the future might hold.”
To attend, attendees had to take a Lateral Flow Test, test negative for COVID-19 24 hours leading up to the event, and show proof of said negative test upon entry.
Following the event, Ashton told the BBC that attendees must return to following coronavirus restriction, and if they test positive for the virus, they must self-isolate.
“We have to deal with Covid still as if it is still around because it is, even if it is at low levels, so we have to be cautious in our approach,” Ashton said.
“And for me that’s why it is so important that we collect the science around this to allow us to do this safely and properly in the future,” he continued. “This is going to be part I think of a longer journey of understanding how we live with Covid more safely in the future.
Since, videos taken at the event — showing non-masked attendees crammed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the warehouse — have gone viral on Twitter. And while some loved the sight of a return to “normalcy,” others were not about it.
The ERP’s second live event is scheduled to take place on Sunday at Liverpool’s Sefton Park. It’ll be held in a big top tent where attendees are free to take off their masks and ditch social distancing once inside.
The U.K. is also set to trial a non-socially distanced outdoor concert with 5,000 attendees. Hosted by Festival Republic at Sefton Park in Liverpool, the outdoor concert will ditch mask requirements, but attendees will be required to take a rapid lateral flow test ahead of the event, much like the rave.
As part of the program, researchers on site will “examine the movements and behavior of the crowd.” And according to CNN, the program aims to establish how all venues, including stadiums, theaters, wedding venues, conference centers and nightclubs, could operate safely this summer.
“These pilots will inform our approach to ensuring future big events can take place safely,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “By trialling a range of measures to reduce transmission, we are able to gather vital evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future.”