U.Okay. Begins Venture to Monitor Mass Gatherings for Coronavirus Security

Thousands of people let loose on a nightclub dance floor. Hundreds of eligible people gather for a business conference. And none of them wear masks.

As the UK emerges from a protracted lockdown, a look back at life before the pandemic is taking place in Liverpool as part of a series of government-led experiments.

The first UK business conference since March 2020 was held in Liverpool on Wednesday and the north-west English city will open a two-day nightclub event on Friday, the first in the UK in more than a year, and an outdoor music festival on Sunday.

The events are part of a UK government research project to find out how mass gatherings can be held safely. Participants are asked to take a coronavirus test before events and get a negative result. Once inside the venues, social distancing and face covering are no longer required.

The pilot events will take place across England this month and next and will be closely monitored by health authorities. Several public sports competitions have already been part of the program and over the next month thousands of people will be gathering in London for the Brit Awards music show and the FA Cup football final.

Each attendee will be asked to undergo a virus test after the event, and the research gathered will influence government policies to bring back major events.

England has set a tentative date for June 21st when all of its virus restrictions, including those on mass gatherings, are due to be lifted, and scientists hope the events they are monitoring provide insight into reducing the risk of the virus spreading.

The UK has reported the lowest number of infections since September in the past few days, giving more than half of its population a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

In other updates from around the world:

  • Authorities at toll stations and ports in Greece On Friday, hundreds of people rejected those who tried to defy viral restrictions on travel between regions ahead of Orthodox Easter, the most important date on the religious calendar. Although cases have stabilized in recent weeks, deaths and hospital stays remain high. Greece has gradually lifted restrictions over the past few weeks, including ending quarantine requirements for visitors from dozens of countries as it prepares to fully reopen its tourism sector next month.

  • While Spain The nationwide state of emergency is expected to be lifted on May 9, to allow tourists to return in June. Some regional administrations are preparing to extend their own lockdown measures longer. Cases have decreased and more people are being vaccinated. Reopening tourism is key to the economy, which contracted in the first quarter, the government said on Friday. After seven years of growth, tourist arrivals fell from 84 million in 2019 to 19 million last year.

  • in the PortugalPrime Minister António Costa announced late Thursday that the country’s only land border – with Spain – would reopen on Saturday after it had been closed since January. Portugal is also quick to pursue the lifting of lockdown restrictions after the coronavirus infection rate was significantly reduced.

Raphael Minder and Niki Kitsantonis contributed to the coverage.

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