Event halls: experiment for safety prior to closing
Whether an arena for music and sports events with thousands of spectators, an opera and musical theater or a small puppet stage: The scientific experiment "Restart 2.0" led by university physicians from Halle is nearing its end. It had begun in October 2021 with measurements in the Halle Puppet Theater, without an audience. The scientists are concerned with the question of how rooms can be evaluated in the future according to uniform criteria as to whether they are safe or not from an infection control point of view. Measurements have now been taken in the indoor air at the Halle Opera House - one of the last of a total of ten locations for the experiment in Germany.
In the large, high hall of the opera house, which has two tiers, aerosol concentrations were determined over several hours using special technology. For the experiment, about 250 spectators watched a film screening. Data was collected anonymously based on the air breathed, as well as data based on the air supplied to the room. At its core, "Restart 2.0" is about protecting against viral infections.
"How can rooms be designed so that we are also prepared for future cases?" said infectiologist Stefan Moritz. According to the company, medical experts and technicians are using new methods to study the flow conditions in the room air for this purpose. The results should help in the planning of events and thus already in the construction of new buildings. "Because the coronavirus will remain with us, in whatever form it takes. In addition, we have other viruses, for example, influenza, which are contagious," said the infectiologist on the timeliness of the scientific work.
The background is that federal and state regulations and measures to contain the Corona pandemic, which broke out just over two years ago, have since been lifted or modified. According to Moritz, the results of "Restart 2.0" should be available in the summer for discussion with experts from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), for example. "Because one thing is certain, the next pandemic is bound to come," Moritz said.
The "Restart 2.0" experiment, which involves experts from the Technical University (TU) of Berlin and Charité Universitätsmedizin, was preceded by the highly acclaimed "Restart-19" concert experiment with singer Tim Bendzko in Leipzig in 2020 and 4,000 volunteer participants.
The scientific air measurements and computer simulations had shown, on balance, that large cultural and sporting events in halls are possible even during a pandemic. However, only under conditions - with fewer spectators than usual, an adequate ventilation system with fresh air supply, strict hygiene and distance rules, permanent mask obligation and controls, explained Moritz, study leader of the two Restart projects and head of clinical infectiology at the University Medical Center Halle.
In Restart 2.0, the results so far indicate that "the better the ventilation, the lower the risk of infection," Moritz said. But the goal, he said, is to develop uniform criteria for an evaluation system for event safety at full seating capacity, including thousands of spectators, or in small rooms. "Restart 2.0" is reportedly being funded just under half with 300,000 euros from the Ministry of Science of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, 150,000 euros from the federal government and about 200,000 euros of TU Berlin's own funds.
Full article on the SZ Website
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