Thousands of young people have partied at a British nightclub as part of a government-backed trial to restart mass audience events, as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes further in England.
Around 3,000 revellers aged 18 to 20 danced to pounding music in a warehouse on the docks in Liverpool on Friday night (local time), in close contact with each other and without wearing masks.
The 3,000 attendees were the first people in Britain in more than a year to legally dance, drink and listen to music in a nightclub.
Everyone at the evening event were local residents, and had to test negative for COVID-19 within 24 hours before the event.
They will be tested again afterwards.
“We’re excited. We’re all on the verge of tears ready to go in,” a student called Josh told the BBC while queuing outside the venue.
Once inside, clubbers could dance to DJs including Lewis Boardman and Jayda G with no restrictions on mixing with others.
Researchers to study rave ahead of larger events
A second clubbing event will be held in the same venue on Saturday, and 5,000 fans will attend a concert headlined by the band Blossoms at Liverpool’s Sefton Park on Sunday.
The test events will culminate at Wembley Stadium on May 15, where a one-quarter capacity crowd of 21,000 will watch the FA Cup soccer final.
The two-day rave is part of a pilot scheme to see how more venues can be reopened safely.
The gig was closely monitored by public health officials, and researchers will study air quality and movement in the venue.
The researchers will accumulate data from these events to see how approaches to social distancing and ventilation affect the spread of the virus.
UK restrictions easing through May, to be gone by June
Most shops and services are open, but indoor drinking, dining and entertainment will not resume before mid-May, at the earliest.
Non-essential retailers in England reopened on April 12 along with pubs and restaurants operating outdoors.
From May 17, restrictions will be lifted further to include indoor hospitality, performances and sporting events.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes to lift the lockdown entirely in the coming months, with social-distancing rules set to remain in place until at least June 21.
While Britain has rolled out COVID-19 vaccines much faster than most of its European peers, it has recorded more than 127,000 COVID-19 deaths, the fifth-highest death toll globally and Europe’s largest.