A group of German scientists are inviting 4,000 music fans to attend a test concert that doubles as an experiment to augment their COVID-19 research efforts.
According to a report published by The Guardian, researchers in eastern Germany are recruiting volunteers for a "coronavirus experiment" in the form of a concert featuring pop singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko at an indoor stadium in Leipzig on August 22nd. The €990,000 initiative, titled RESTART-19, is being funded jointly between the federal states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. At the time of the report's publishing, 775 volunteers had signed up to attend the show.
The organizers of RESTART-19 say the objective of the concert is to "identify a framework" for how larger events may take place in the future while mitigating the dangers of the virus. In something more fitting for a Black Mirror episode, attendees will be outfitted with miniature "contact tracer" devices via chains around their necks, which will "transmit a signal at five-second intervals," continuously collecting data on each individual's movements to monitor their social distancing tendencies.
Participants will also disinfect their hands with a "fluorescent hand-sanitiser," which will allow the venture's researchers to use UV light to take inventory of the venue after the show, identifying virus transmission points through smears. Moreover, they will implement fog machines that emit vapors and aerosols, which will help to further illuminate potential transmissions after RESTART-19 scientists utilize computer-generated models in advance of the concert.
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"We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organisers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss," said the experiment’s coordinator, Stefan Moritz, who is also the head of clinical infectious diseases at the University Hospital in Halle.
Prospective attendees will also receive a DIY test kit and get undergo a formal COVID-19 test from a doctor 48 hours prior to the start of the event. Those unable to prove they are not at risk will be turned away at the door. Those who do, however, will be given a "face mask with an exhalation valve" along with the fluorescent disinfectant. It's important to note that RESTART-19 organizers maintain that unequivocal protection from contraction of the virus cannot be guaranteed, but the chances are "extremely slim."