Video report by Emma Sweeney
Boris Johnson is expected to set out plans for a “Covid status certification” scheme to enable the safe return of mass gatherings and indoor events as lockdown restrictions ease in England.
A series of trial events are planned for the coming months as officials look to find a way for venues such as football grounds and nightclubs to reopen without the need for social distancing.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport included a number of Liverpool events on an initial list of pilots, and said: “The pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation.
“Covid-status certification will also be trialled as part of the pilot programme.”
But a spokesman for Liverpool City Council said on Sunday: “The line which was briefed out yesterday by the government about Liverpool’s events being included in the vaccine passports trials is incorrect – none of our events in Liverpool will involve them.”
The council said the Events Research Programme (ERP) will be used to provide key scientific data on how events for a range of audiences could be permitted to safely reopen as part of Step 4 of the road map out of lockdown.
The Liverpool pilots – a comedy gig, an outdoor cinema, a club night and a business event – will “gather evidence associated with different settings and approaches to managing and mitigating transmission risk”.
The council said: “The pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation, including the use of lateral flow tests – but there will be no use of so-called ‘vaccine passports’.”
The Liverpool pilots are the Hot Water Comedy Club at M&S Bank Arena Auditorium, the Luna Cinema on the Waterfront (three shows), The Good Business Festival Presents: Change Business for Good at ACC Liverpool, and the Circus Club.
The council said the aim of the programme is to develop and pilot the logistics of event ticketing and testing, venue admittance and post-event follow-up.
It also aims to assess the adequacy of data collected around events and venues for responding to potential outbreaks, and for adapting protection measures according to the background levels and patterns of spread of the virus.
The programme will also measure the uptake of tickets and explore attitudes to, and acceptability of the overall ticketing, questioning and testing regime.
Matthew Ashton, Liverpool’s director of public health, said: “Our experience as the pilot city for mass symptom-free testing means we have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to deliver complicated projects safely.
“We really hope we can help provide the scientific evidence needed to ensure the wider sector is able to open across the country in the coming months.
“This is a continuation of the city’s long-standing tradition of carrying out pioneering public health work that not only has an impact here, but also across the rest of the country and the wider world.”