Rapid testing and calls for government support
The Minister for Health of Singapore announced on Tuesday that they will begin piloting a program to conduct rapid testing at live events beginning with Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) which starts on October 26. The program will run through December and incorporate various methods including on-site and at separate facilities; if it proves successful, this would be a huge step in the right direction for live events.
While less reliable than the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Tests, the Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) that will be distributed to attendees return “fairly accurate” results in around 30 minutes rather than 1-2 days. The results will be valid for 24 hours from the time of testing and will allow people to attend any event occurring within that time period. Should an ART return a positive result, a PCR test will be required and subsequent protocols followed.
The testing initiative will not replace additional hygiene and distancing measures as the reliability is not 100%; however, it will significantly reduce the likelihood of exposure and spreading.
Australian promoters are calling for government assistance in coming up with a solution to the current insurance predicament. For those of you not familiar with the current state of affairs, while communicable disease coverage was generally available as an extension on event cancellation insurance policies, it didn’t come standard and was often overlooked or ignored. There are a multitude of extensions available when selecting coverage but they’re usually accompanied by high premiums and because festivals operate on razor thin margins, many festival promoters choose not to purchase these extensions.
As a result of COVID, some insurance companies have removed communicable disease coverage from their offerings. While this is yet another blow to the live events industry, it’s understandable that insurance companies are wary of providing this kind of coverage. According to ABC News, “Lloyd's projects the global insurance market will spend US$100 billion ($142 billion) on COVID-19 payouts.”
Premiums are also expected to increase which is going to add another level of strain to an already suffering industry and make it challenging to plan next year’s festivals with the current level of uncertainty. The calls for government support highlight the simple fact that these festivals create thousands of jobs and bring in millions (even billions) of dollars to local economies. Without some assurance that promoters can recoup some of their losses should they decide to proceed and something (else) goes terribly wrong it will make it nearly impossible to push forward.
A similar call for support, in the form of an open letter written to the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was also launched in the UK late last week. With still no end to the Corona Crisis in sight and risks related to the virus uninsurable, it leaves the industry with no viable options to restart.