15 minute rapid tests: the light at the end of the tunnel for events?

Imagine: you roll up to the festival gates for the first time in what feels like a lifetime. You’re ready to hand over your tickets, but first, medics come up to the car in protective equipment. Everyone in your car gets a quick nose swab, and the team clears your car to enter the festival grounds in less than 15 minutes. Sure, people might still mostly be wearing masks on the dance floor, but you’re used to that by now. You wore a mask back in 2019 anyway, but that was just because the dance floor was so dusty. Loud music events are back.

It might seem like a far-away pipe dream to many, especially in counties like the US where the COVID-19 cases and deaths are skyrocketing right now. But that fantasy-feeling paragraph might describe the best best for there to be a festival season in 2021. Rapid testing (combined with common sense protections like contact tracing databases, handwash/sanitize stations, and only open-air stage could make it possible for small festivals and events to feel safe next year.

There are, of course, many other obstacles that stand in the way: logistical implementation (testing in the US, for instance, has been logistically spotty at best), lawyers and liabilities, and any number of other unforseen challenges that 2020 has trained us all to expect.

Imagine, though, a chance for promoters, DJs, performers, artists, lighting and sound techs, stage designers, dancers, and countless other roles all finally getting to create again together. It’s worth visualizing how the dance music community get there.

Rapid testing is coming to events very soon

Here’s the great news: people are already starting to make rapid testing at events a reality. One events company, Swallow Events, has announced they’re going to start offering COVID-19 rapid testing and compliance as a service to event and festival organizers in the UK, Europe, and Australia.

To make it possible, Swallow has announced that they’re linking up with Roche, a Swiss medical and testing company, to deliver onsite, rapid (15 minute) COVID-19 testing for events. Having previously provided catering, infrastructure, marketing, and logistics support for festivals, it seems safe to say that they’ll be well suited for it.

“We chose to partner exclusively with Roche and we’re able to offer MHRA, CE and PHE approved rapid 15 minute (99.68% specificity) turn around pop-up testing facilities conducted by government approved healthcare professionals on any size and scale, therefore enabling large scale gatherings to be held in a Covid secure environment. As an alternative, we offer a supply only option and we ship worldwide.”

Rapid, highly-accurate testing isn’t a silver bullet that will suddenly bring the entire industry back to life, but it’s certainly a big tool in the arsenal of making events reasonable to even consider throwing.

So are we all headed back to the club?

Ultimately, indoor events are probably on the rocks for another 6 -8 months at least. Even with the promise of a COVID vaccine, distribution and general public attitude towards enclosed, sweaty places will likely keep most large indoor DJ gigs held back. Meeting. a stranger on a dance floor? Probably not. Small outdoor parties with close friends? That seems more likely.

It’s worth mentioning, at this point much of our future-visioning feels pretty speculative. Planning for 2021 and beyond feels impossible at times, but there are good reasons to stay optimistic and hopeful.

coronaviruscovid-19Festivalssafetyswallow events
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