As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, it is unclear how much time will be needed to roll out double-dose vaccines to 67% of our country’s population, nor how long immunity from the vaccine will last for. Which means the events industry cannot depend on vaccines alone to bring about a safe reopening as soon as possible. We need more safeguards, now. Like this one…
RECHARGE 2020 was a live music event hosted at the Grand Café & Beach venue in Cape Town on 21 December 2020. It was also the first event in SA that used rapid antigen testing to screen attendees before allowing entry.
“Rapid testing is a potential game changer when it comes to limiting the risk of exposure and infection to Covid-19.”
Big Concerts and The Entertainment Group produced the event in partnership with Irish-based Health Passport Europe – a mobile app that securely stores a user’s Covid-19 status. This includes Covid-19 vaccinations and all official test types including PCR tests, blood tests and rapid diagnostic tests.
The entry process they adopted for RECHARGE 2020 was as follows:
- All attendees were required to download the app prior to the event.
- On arrival at the event, each person was screened. Those with Covid-19 symptoms were turned away after being advised to follow national health guidelines, while everyone else underwent a rapid antigen test.
- Test results were privately loaded to each person’s profile on Health Passport Europe within 20 minutes.
- Those with negative results were allowed entry, while those who tested positive were given medical advice on what to do next.
All staff, performers and guests were also tested before the event.
Given that test results are not infallible and can sometimes give a false reading, Covid-19 health guidelines were still enforced within the event. However, the additional layer of screening and detection the testing offered has been lauded as an important way to minimise the risk of transmission.
“Asymptomatic persons are the greatest risk to spreading the virus as we cannot with traditional screening means determine if someone has Covid-19.”
Alliance Safety was the company managing the risk and liability for this event. The company’s MD, Mike Lord, says, “Rapid testing is a potential game changer when it comes to limiting the risk of exposure and infection to Covid-19. I see corporates, conferences, trade exhibitions, launches, film shoots using this to allow events and activations to continue while reducing the risk of spread to minimal levels.”
He goes on to explain, “Asymptomatic persons are the greatest risk to spreading the virus as we cannot with traditional screening means determine if someone has Covid-19 when working or attending an event. By having the ability to reduce this risk of non-detection from 100% down to 5-10% using the antigen test gives you greater certainty that you have eliminated those potentially carrying the virus but not showing symptoms, and allows you to continue with the event knowing that you have been able to isolate those that may be infected.”
Justin Van Wyk, CEO of Big Concerts, says, “This was an important moment for the events industry which has been devastated by the pandemic. Using the Health Passport Europe platform allowed this event to proceed with the highest levels of risk mitigation, demonstrating the way forward for live events globally. The system allowed us to offer pre- and post-event testing for maximum reassurance, protecting attendees, performers and everyone connected with the event.”
“Many thousands of people are already using the mobile system and it is helping industries to return.”
Robert Quirke, founder of Health Passport Europe, says, “Our team is excited and humbled to have worked on this project for Cape Town and to have contributed to the safe reopening of international entertainment and tourism. The secure technology is engineered to work with all official Covid-19 tests and vaccinations. Many thousands of people are already using the mobile system and it is helping industries to return.”
For people who are concerned about their privacy, Health Passport Europe notes that a user’s information is privately and securely stored. Its’ website states: “It does not track user activities, does not use Bluetooth, does not use GPS, and does not monitor your location. Your privacy is fully protected.”
The app is currently being used across a range of industries other than events, including healthcare, logistics, hospitality, education and nursing homes, and is also undergoing a trial at Dublin Airport.