Thousands of revellers are returning to the dancefloor at the UK’s first post-lockdown ‘nightclub’ rave today – but there will be a tent of scientists outside monitoring their behaviour.
Nightlife promoter Circus hosted The First Dance in Liverpool, where revellers, who all had to produce negative Covid tests, did not have to wear face coverings or social distance for the first time since before lockdown began.
DJs including Fatboy Slim will be playing to the ravers, who’ve had to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event in order to release their e-ticket, and will have to produce a negative result to gain entry.
They are then asked to take another test five days after the rave and submit the results.
But critics say the event bears little resemblance to an actual club night, with the event starting at 2pm and revellers getting kicked out by 11pm.
People involved in the trial will not need to socially distance from strangers nor wear a mask, but must be over 18, live in the Liverpool City region and registered to a GP, and must be showing no signs of Covid-19 symptoms.
The trial events are designed to advance the reopening roadmap’s plan to scrap social distancing on June 21.
The club night will be led by scientists, aided by researchers inside to ‘monitor’ crowds and study ‘behavioural’ responses of people after a year of social distancing.
A board of advisers, made up of independent scientists and public health experts, will assess the data and present results to Ministers at the end of May.
Thousands of revellers are returning to the dancefloor at the UK’s first post-lockdown ‘nightclub’ rave today – but there will be a tent of scientists outside monitoring their behaviour
Some revellers hit the pre-drinks early ahead of the event which kicked off at 2pm today
Girls were ready to hit the dancefloor at the pilot event this afternoon
Revellers donned their bucket hats and flares for the rave at the Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool
Attendees must live within a Liverpool postcode and will take a Covid-19 lateral flow test which must be negative before they can gain entry to the club
People involved in the trial will not need to socially distance from strangers nor wear a mask
Revellers at Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool this afternoon for the first nightclub rave
Ticketholders have to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event and will have to produce a negative result to gain entry, before taking another test and submitting the results next Wednesday
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The sold-out pilot, which will include performances by Fatboy Slim, are part of the government’s ‘Events Research Programme’
The sold-out pilot, which will include performances by Fatboy Slim, are part of the government’s ‘Events Research Programme’.
Data collected from the events will test the safety of large-scale gatherings ahead of government plans to lift nearly all restrictions on June 21.
Circus co-owner DJ Yousef Zahar told the BBC it hoped to return to ‘pre-Covid conditions’, with revellers eventually able to enjoy themselves without social distancing, masks or alcohol rules.
‘It’s very exciting but of course there’s a really serious point to all this to be able to take the information and the data… (and) move forward hopefully with a view to do the 21st of June,’ he said.
Temporary venues have been prepared for the two-day event in the city, including a tent for scientists to monitor behaviour.
Liverpool’s director of public health Matt Ashton sounded a note of caution ahead of the pilot, saying Covid-19 was ‘still there’ and ‘new variants and international travel are still a real cause for concern’.
But he said ‘staying in lockdown is not an option’ and events were an ‘an important part of the wellbeing, social fabric and economies of communities, particularly in Liverpool’.
‘This hasn’t been an easy process, and it’s particularly hard as the nighttime sector hasn’t been open for over a year,’ added director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan.
‘But anyone who attends will not only be helping to get clubs up and running in Liverpool, they will be pioneers for the whole country,’ she added.
There was mixed reaction to the event on social media today – with some envious of the revellers and others questioning the point of the event
Temporary venues have been prepared for the two-day event in the city, including a tent for scientists to monitor behaviour
The event forms part of the Government’s month-long trials of non-socially distanced mass events.
Up to 20,000 spectators will be allowed at football matches and other sporting events, while thousands will be able to attend theatres and comedy clubs for the first time in a year.
Nine events will be used for a month-long trial, including an FA Cup semi-final and the final in front of 21,000 fans at Wembley, as well as three 10km outdoor runs for 3,000 athletes and up to 3,000 spectators.
Officials are also in talks with the organisers of the Brit Awards about allowing thousands of fans to watch the music event, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, in London’s O2 Arena on May 11.
Liverpool has been chosen for several events because of the city’s advanced testing infrastructure.
Some events will be used to test Covid certificates, others to examine how ventilation, crowd flows and testing on entry can help audiences return without social distancing.