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Finally, something to cheer about!

If England beating Germany 2-0 wasn’t good enough, we have more great news for you today. In much the same way as England has made it through to the quarter-finals against Ukraine on Saturday, the government’s ERP (Events Research Programme) has also made it through to the second phase.

The first phase of the government’s event pilot scheme ERP was intended to explore the impact of large events on the UK’s R number (meaning the ‘rate of infection’). The ERP was commissioned by Boris Johnson in February this year as a key part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Between the 17th April and the 15th May, many large events - from the BRIT awards to the official Circus club night opening – were given the green light for the purpose of determining how COVID-19 spreads in situations where social distancing is not reasonably possible.  The pilot selection was based on event settings that would provide “substantial data and transferable learning” that could be generalised across many settings, as the report’s executive summary states.

Over the last few days, the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has released the first phase of the ERP’s findings. The results have been promising; the report said there were “no substantial outbreaks identified by public health teams and their surveillance systems around any of the events”. In total there have been 28 cases identified, with 11 of these cases being recognized as potentially infectious at an event, and a further 17 recognized as potentially infected at or around the time of an event.

ERP Chief Advisor Nicholas Hytner welcomed the news: “These events are so important for our wellbeing, our sense of community and togetherness, and they have been sorely missed. This programme has shown that through the public demonstrating their status we have been able to track the virus, creating a safer space for the public to get back to the events they love. The findings from the first phase of this programme will help facilitate the return of what so many of us enjoy: attending exciting and top-quality events throughout the country when it is safe to do so.”

This is great news for an industry that has received nothing but setbacks over the last eighteen months. However, we’ll have to contain our excitement just for a little longer, because they are still more tests to complete over the next couple months. The events taking part in the second phase of ERP include the group stage UEFA EURO 2020 matches hosted at Wembley Stadium, the Download Pilot music festival, and the England v New Zealand test match at Edgbaston. 

The third phase of the ERP will include Wimbledon Championships, The Open Championship, Goodwood Festival of Speed, Home and Gift 2021, Rugby League’s Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup Finals. Latitude and the Grange Opera Festival. Further events will be added in due course.

Here’s hoping we can pull it out the bag, like Kane did on Tuesday night!


Words by Rebecca Clayton