Barcelona threw a free concert for 500 lockdown-weary residents Saturday — but they had to pass a rapid coronavirus test to get in.
Barcelona’s Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation set up the live music event as an experiment to weigh the efficacy of rapid tests used for large, cultural events.
More than 1,000 residents gathered at the Apolo Theatre, where they were given a COVID-19 antigen test. About 500 of the volunteers whose tests came back COVID-free were randomly selected as audience members for the five-hour music festival.
Those who were sent home will form a control group that will allow organizers to compare the virus spread among them with the group who was let into the concert.
The goal of the experiment is to judge whether antigen tests — which produce results within 15 minutes but are said to be less effective than PCR tests — can safely allow large gatherings to happen once again.
“This is not a party, this is a scientific study,” Dr. Boris Revollo, the virologist who designed the study’s protocols, told The Associated Press. “This could be useful in all types of events, from cultural events, to business congresses, to sporting events. . . . And young people, as we have seen, are holding their own clandestine parties because they have no other outlet.”
All attendees who were let in the Apolo to hear music from live bands and DJs were required to wear face masks — but social distancing was not enforced. Designated areas were set up for drinking.
The volunteers underwent a more thorough PCR test just before the concert and will do so again in eight days.
The test comes as Spain, which has recorded more than 47,600 deaths, is still under a strict lockdown — which has decimated the once-thriving music scene. Volunteers of the antigen-test experiment cheered its temporary return.
“I really, really missed going to concerts, above all to hear some rock ’n’ roll,” said Carolina Rius, 56. “I don’t feel like a guinea pig. I feel like I am taking a stand. The world of culture, and above all the concert halls, are having a very bad time of it and I don’t want them to shut for good.”