German researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Institute of Goslar and Parte Q have conducted a new study analyzing the movement of airborne particles in an indoor environment. Backed by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, the study took place at Konzerthaus Dortmund, a 1,500 seat concert hall.
The Konzerthaus Dortmund study follows a similar study at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, which concluded that music venues could operate safely under certain conditions. Unlike the Leipzig study, however, the Konzerthaus Dortmund study used a specialized dummy to simulate human breathing, while the researches collected data over three days. Given the conditions that the venue has a proper fresh-air supply—and all attendees wear masks—researchers concluded that infection with COVID-19 “through aerosol transmission can almost be ruled out,” according to a press release from Konzerthaus Dortmund.
Artistic director of Konzerthaus Dortmund, Dr. Raphael von Hoensbroech, stated, “The past months have shown that politicians need a scientifically sound basis for decision making. With our study, we want to contribute, to help ensure that concert halls and theatres can again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”
This follows Hoensbroech’s previous statement from September, when he concluded that “Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection.”
The study, which researchers conducted on November 2nd, 3rd, and 20th, 2020, found the following:
–If attendees wear a mask, there is virtually no aerosol transmission in a room with a proper ventilation system that recycles fresh air at least every 20 minutes.
–Large rooms ensure “a strong dilution of contaminated aerosols,” and combined with a proper ventilation system, particles are removed in all areas without the ability to accumulate.
–Without masks, an empty seat should be maintained between all attendees in checkerboard fashion.
–More people in a venue does not impact upwards air flow and actually promotes it via “additional thermal effects.”
–Masks must be kept on in all corridors, break areas, and foyers due to the way ventilation systems work and the inability to rule out close contact.
–Given proper ventilation, a concert hall “cannot trigger a superspreading event.”
Pairing this study with the increasing availability of vaccines and more effective COVID-19 treatments, this bodes well for the future of live music in 2021 and beyond. Click here to read the full study (in German) and here for the key findings (English).