Thousands pack Liverpool nightclub in one of series of U.K. test events on mass gatherings


Several thousand music fans on Friday became the first people in Britain in more than a year to legally dance, drink and listen to music in a nightclub as part of a test to see whether physical distancing measures can be eased without triggering new coronavirus outbreaks.

The afternoon-admission gig at a warehouse in Liverpool, northwest England, is one of a series of pilot events sponsored by the U.K. government and closely monitored by public health officials. The 3,000 attendees, all local residents, were to be tested before and after the event, while researchers will study air quality and movement in the venue.

A second clubbing event will be held in the same venue on Saturday, and 5,000 fans will attend a concert headlined by the band Blossoms at Liverpool’s Sefton Park on Sunday. The test events will culminate at Wembley Stadium on May 15, where a one-quarter capacity crowd of 21,000 will watch the FA Cup soccer final.

Britain has recorded more than 127,000 coronavirus deaths, Europe’s highest toll. But a fast-moving vaccination campaign has given almost two-thirds of adults at least one shot, and the government is gradually lifting the restrictions on social and economic life that were in place over much of the last 14 months.

Here’s a look inside Friday’s dance- and confetti-filled event.

‘Very excited’

People wore big smiles outside the Circus nightclub, which organized the event.

(Carl Recine/Reuters)

Signs issued reminders to people queueing outside the nightclub.

(Carl Recine/Reuters)

Free to mix

Once inside, clubbers could dance to DJs including Lewis Boardman and Jayda G. with no restrictions on mixing with others.

(Richard McCarthy/PA/The Associated Press)

(Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

“Today is going to be monumental,” said DJ Yousef, co-founder of Circus nightclub.

“Once you go over the threshold, the whole point of today is to go back to pre-COVID conditions, which of course is no social distancing, no masks. You can interact with people you don’t know,” he told the BBC.

(Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Yousef said the reaction of ticket-buyers to that news had been “disbelief” and excitement.

(Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

(Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Experiences elsewhere in Europe are encouraging. Organizers of a Barcelona concert last month attended by 4,500 mask-wearing fans who had been screened for the virus say the event produced no significant outbreaks.

Read more at CBC.ca