Groovy Clinical Trial In A Party

Ever heard of a Clinical Trial where you dress up and go to a club?

In Liverpool England, people danced together at a warehouse party as part of a Clinical trial to establish if and how social distancing can be brought to an end and people can get back to normal lifestyle. About 3,000 clubbers were rammed up against each other inside a Liverpool warehouse on Friday night, ''...waving (their) hands in they air, waving them like the just don't care...'' to pounding Techno music.

To get into the club, local clubbers had to take a lateral flow test for Covid-19 at one of four official testing centers in Liverpool, then upload the result to a website so it linked to their ticket. When they arrived at the warehouse, their results were checked, but once they passed security, the partyers were free to act as if the pandemic had never happened. There were no requirements to wear a mask, socially distance or even use hand sanitizer.

Image Courtesy Reuters

Some young women in bikini tops were dancing together, passing around half-full bottles of Rosé cocktail, while next to them a middle-aged man was dancing so hard a huge sweat patch had formed across his back. They were all beaming with clearly visible smiles, since no one was wearing a face mask, let alone social distancing. “This is the first dance,” Nick Evans, a 28-year-old legal adviser, shouted above the music. “And it could be the last dance, so I’m going to enjoy it,” he added before sashaying back into the crowd. Alice Mitchell, 20, said the only thing she’d been surprised by was a ban on bringing in hand sanitizer. A security guard had made her throw a bottle away, she said, in case she had been trying to sneak in alcohol. “Other than that, I’m having an amazing time,” she said, adding she was sticking to the edge of the dance floor to keep as safe as possible.

According to the researcher lain Buchan “This is down and dirty public health research,”. When arranging the trial, his team had quickly decided there was little point asking people to wear masks or stay in bubbles.

The New York Times reports that Since the corona virus pandemic hit Britain last March, nightclubs have remained closed. Whereas theatres and museums have been allowed to reopen (with caveats) when infection levels were low, the idea of people dancing up close to each other in a sweaty club has been seen as too much of a risk. If you wanted to go dancing in Liverpool, you had to go to illegal raves. (Last summer, thousands of people did just that, causing a headache for the police and lawmakers in Britain.) But that situation may soon change. In February, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that because of the country’s vaccine rollout, he hoped to remove all restrictions on social life in England on June 21. That would include allowing clubs to reopen, based on recent trials of events in Liverpool.

The Liverpool club night, a second event was held in the same venue on Saturday and was the first of those trials, and an attempt to see how reopening might work in practice. Other trial events in the city have included a pop concert for 5,000 fans in a circus tent and a business conference.

Some academics had criticized the nights as “human guinea pig trials,” but Iain Buchan of the University of Liverpool, the scientist leading the trials, insisted Covid-19 rates in Britain were so low that the chances of an outbreak were slim. There were 69 cases reported in Liverpool in the week running up to the event, according to official figures. “The risk of encountering someone positive in there might be 1 in 5,000,” Buchan said.

Image Courtesy Reuters

 The trial was more about working out what measures could be used to allow clubs to reopen. That included seeing if people were happy to be tested before hand and link that with tickets, monitoring people’s movements inside and using sensors to check carbon dioxide levels and ventilation. In March, Dutch researchers ran a similar trial involving 1,300 party goers in the Netherlands. They found the masks lasted five minutes, People just threw them off.

Britain has over 1,400 nightclubs, according to the Nighttime Industries Association, which represents venues, many of which had been forced to lay off staff during the pandemic. Some of those have already leapt at the chance to reopen. Fabric, a famed club in London that can hold 1,500 people, has sold out a 42-hour-long reopening weekend party that begins June 25. The Cause, another London club, is close to selling out a similar event that same weekend.

The owners of four British clubs said they welcomed the Liverpool trials, but felt more were needed to reflect different types of spaces. “We’re not a warehouse,” said the owner of Dalston Superstore, a popular club for L.G.B.T.Q. party goers in London, said in a telephone interview. Many D.J.s said they wanted clubs to reopen soon as possible, and not just for the sake of their work.  

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