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THE SCOOP | New Study Suggests Concert Halls Safe At 50% Capacity

By Michael Vincent on January 13, 2021

Dortmund Concert Hall (Photo: Simeon Klein)
Dortmund Concert Hall (Photo: Simeon Klein)

Slipped Disc has alerted us to a potentially important study conducted for the Dortmund Konzerthaus in Germany. The study, which was published this week, aimed to determine the risk of exposure to the CORONA-19 infection when visiting concert halls.

The research was conducted under the Federal Environment Agency. Hygiene experts measured the spatial spread of aerosols and CO2 from the auditorium and the foyer of Germany’s Dortmund Concert Hall, which at 1,500 seats, is home to the Dortmund Philharmonic.

The study showed the highest risk wasn’t in the auditorium, but in the foyer areas and access routes. While the study noted theoretically full occupancy in the hall would be conceivable, it took into account an adequate central ventilation system, mandatory face masks, sanitation, and 1.5-meter physical distancing.

The study findings recommended that concert halls of similar sizes be occupied in a chessboard pattern, with a maximum 50% capacity.

A similar study from Barcelona looked at the results of a same-day coronavirus screening in mid-December at the Primavera Sound Music Festival, held at a concert hall with over 1,000 fans. Preliminary results indicated there was zero transmission inside the venue. With masks mandatory, fans were allowed to sing and dance during the event.

“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection,” Dr. Raphael von Hoensbroech, director of the Konzerthaus Dortmund, said. “The past few months have shown that politics needs scientifically sound decision-making bases. With our study, we want to contribute to the fact that the concert halls and theatres can again admit sufficient audience when they open.”

Since shutting down cultural event spaces in October, the German government has set up a joint working group with representatives from cultural institutions and is informing decisions with scientific findings.

The Konzerthaus study was reviewed by Germany’s Minister of Culture and Science Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, who stated that the central issue determining the reopening of concert halls is about ventilation. The minister called the study “a valuable component in the effort to enable games to be played even in times of pandemic.”

“It is painful that the still high number of infections does not currently allow reopening,” Pfeiffer-Poensgen said. “It is all the more important to create perspectives and planning security for the time after the lockdown.”

Germany moved from a partial lockdown to a full national lockdown on December 16 through January 10. From its peak of 400,245 active cases on December 24, they have been trending down with 344,463 reported cases as of January 12.

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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me
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