Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Dancing like there’s no COVID-19: Paris hosts test concert

Published:Monday | May 31, 2021 | 12:13 AM


Thousands of people, masked and tested for the coronavirus, packed inside a Paris arena for a concert on Saturday as part of a public health experiment to prepare France to host big events again.

The show at AccorHotels Arena in eastern Paris featured 1980s French rock band Indochine and DJ Etienne de Crecy. But the attention was mostly on the concertgoers.

The Paris public hospital authority helped organise the event to determine whether it’s safe to allow 5,000 masked people to dance together in the open pit of an indoor concert arena without social distancing.

The attendees are seeing the show for free, but were required to take three virus tests, two before and one after the concert. In addition, according to the hospital authority, to further reduce risk, organisers only allowed people 18-45 years old without underlying health conditions to participate.

France has not allowed such music concerts since early 2020. Cultural venues were shut for most of the past 14 months as authorities tried to contain persistent surges of virus infections that filled hospitals and were linked to more than 109,000 deaths.

France’s COVID-19 hospitalisation rates and confirmed cases have steadily shrunk in recent weeks as vaccinations increase.

Similar test concerts have recently been held in other European countries, including Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain.