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Can indoor concerts ever be the same again?

With employees heading back to offices and children attending summer camp again, the pre-pandemic daily routine seems to be making its way back.

But indoor concerts still seem to be a thing of the future. The pure joy of singing to a favourite artist, oozing with energy, packed with thousands of fans in a confined space seems to be an unrealistic wish right now.

A recent Tuesday night sunset concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado saw the arrival of many music lovers, including Melinda Murphy, a teacher from Denver.

Murphy told news reporters that had the concert been indoors, she might not have attended it altogether. She said that she was still shuddering at the idea of being in a crowd and indoors were too tight and confined for her.

Murphy also said that in case of a large indoor music event, details about the venue, capacity and social distancing arrangements would be a must to know and that she would still wear a mask despite being fully vaccinated.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidelines that remove the restriction on wearing masks indoors and outdoors has increased the desire and ability to return to normalcy and to concerts.

According to Joe Berchtold, president of Live Nation, one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, there have been massive pent up demands for global concerts coming their way. But the latest data from the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus tracking index has found that 37 percent of adults are still considering attending indoor concerts a large risk, 48 percent of them are claiming it to be small to moderate risk and 14 percent are saying that there is no risk at all.

Although sports leagues like the NBA have recently increased their attendance capacity, concerts have a completely different environment. After a coronavirus outbreak in an Australian church, researchers blamed it on the poor ventilation and the greater ability of the virus to spread through the act of singing.

CDC’s published Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report rivals that singing has been found to generate greater number of respiratory aerosol particles and droplets than talking due to sharp variations in pitches and tones.

A growing body of scientific literature states that large indoor concerts with the right Covid-19 mitigation measures could be held safely. But there are still questions regarding how broadly these findings should be applied.

A study of 1,000 people at an indoor live music event in Barcelona last year in December found that none of the members who attended the concert got infected by the virus, according to a recent publication in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

In the event, attendees were compulsorily required to get Covid-19 tests done before entering, and were supposed to wear N95 masks for the entire duration and could sing and dance but with social distancing. The venue enhanced ventilation and implemented crowd directing and control. The participants were required to use two smartphone applications for contact tracing and communicating test results after the event.

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