One of Europe's most popular music festivals trialed a successful live music event last month, using same-day COVID-19 screening to hold the event without social distancing.

Primavera Sound held a concert in December with 463 people in attendance at the 1608 Sala Apolo venue in Barcelona. Local DJs played and every attendee was required to undergo a COVID-19 test with a negative result. Results were available within 15 minutes. The aim of the event was to determine if live music events could safely resume with the proper precautions in place, and without the need for social distancing. 

Run the Jewels (hip hop band) perform in concert at Primavera Sound Festival
Run the Jewels (hip hop band) perform in concert at Primavera Sound Festival on May 29, 2015 in Barcelona ©Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock

According to the results released last week, there were two infections among the 496 control group, i.e. those who did not enter the concert, but there were no infections among the 463 people who were permitted to attend. All participants were aged between 18 and 59-years-old, did not suffer from any underlying conditions, and did not live with vulnerable people.

Primavera Sound partnered with Hospital Germans Trias and Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation to organize the event. Doctors Josep Maria Llibre and Boris Revollo, responsible for the PRIMA-CoV study, said antigen tests, FFP2 masks and flow control were employed at the event. "The study allows us to say that if you do a similar activity it will be safe, but the further you move away from these characteristics, the greater the uncertainty," Llibre said.

Large photovoltaic pergola designed by Torres & Lapena, in the Parc del Forum space
The Barcelona iteration of the festival is usually held in the Parc del Forum space.©ttabography/Shutterstock

It's a cautiously optimistic approach, and more evaluations are needed before concerts get off the ground this year. But the event was a good rehearsal for future live music events. “That was, precisely, the objective of this study: to validate these kinds of tests as an extremely useful tool to be able to carry out any type of event, whether musical or not, without social distancing,” the team explained in a statement.

Primavera Sound canceled its 2020 run, and is hoping to return on June 2-6, 2021 in Barcelona and, for the first time ever, host a festival in Los Angeles from September 18-19, 2021.

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