The first-ever Belgian test event took place last night (26 April) at Brussels venue Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS).
The owner of KVS had previously stated that the venue would open its doors on 26 April regardless of any Covid restrictions that might be in place but ultimately, the government decided to turn yesterday evening’s performance of Jonathan into a test event.
All 50 attendees, as well as the KVS employees, had to undergo a rapid test and wear a mask at all times inside the 500-capacity room. They will also be required to take a PCR test the following week.
Tonight, the venue will host an identical test event, before scaling up to 100 attendees from Wednesday onwards.
The following week, the number of attendees will increase again if the air quality monitoring yields good results. On Tuesday 4 May, the hall will be filled to 40%, on Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 May, it will be further scaled up to 50% with a maximum of 250 spectators.
The purpose of the test events is to measure how the air quality in the room is impacted by the presence of an audience
The purpose of the test events is to measure how the air quality in the room is impacted by the presence of an audience. To do this, the CO2 content and the relative humidity are measured every minute with specialised equipment.
If these CO2 values remain good (CO2 below 1200 ppm and relative humidity between 30 and 60 percent), this shows that the chance of transmission of infectious diseases via the air is very low.
At any point in the test series, if the air quality monitoring shows that the risk of airborne contamination is becoming unacceptably high, there will be no further upscaling. The decision will be made at 11 am the day before the performance.
Around 30 test events are planned for the next two months but Belgium’s minister of culture Jan Jambon says that the government will conduct as many as necessary: “As long as we can learn good things from them, that is important, but at a certain point the learning curve stops, and we will the cultural sector.”
Details of the test events are yet to be announced but Belgium’s Corona Commission says they will span culture and sports.
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