Quebec City is planning a supervised 'test concert' for 20,000 people

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After Barcelona and Paris, Quebec City is now preparing to welcome thousands of spectators for a test concert.

The show would take place in September in the Capitale-Nationale region under the supervision of researchers from Université Laval.

According to the Quebec government, the "historic show" will cost between an estimated $2 and $3 million.

"The event is a 'huge step towards the realization of safe events,'" said Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx on Monday afternoon.

Details will be unveiled in the coming weeks as a team of scientists works to define the parameters of the research protocol they plan to establish.

They will determine the age group targeted, whether spectators will be masked or not and whether they will have to present a vaccination passport to attend, among other matters.

And -- depending on the epidemiological situation and progression of variants -- the concert may not take place at all. Proulx said public health will have the final word.

If officials allow it, Quebec could become the first Canadian province to gather 20,000 spectators in an event since the start of the pandemic.

There would be two concerts, one with 5,000 people in the hall and another with 20,000 people outside.

It's an operation Sophie D'Amours, rector of Université Laval, describes as "ambitious."

The Quebec City university was mandated by the province to develop a research protocol adapted to this type of experience.

A similar event took place in April in Barcelona. The results of the clinical experiment detected 'no signs of contagion' among the 5,000 masked participants, gathered without physical distancing measures.

France also tried a similar experiment at the end of May where 5,000 people were gathered for a rock concert with the band Indochine.

French labour union Prodiss, which set up the test show in Paris in May, will collaborate with Quebec City.

The collaboration will promote the exchange of information and findings that Prodiss has drawn from France's experience, "which will allow us to go even further," said Proulx.

In addition to data on the possible risk of contagion, researchers at Université Laval want to look at societal issues such as the fear, excitement or joy that may be felt by participants in this first large-scale show in the pandemic era.

WHO CAN ATTEND?

With or without a mask? With or without social distancing measures? Will proof of vaccination be required or not? What age group will be able to attend the concert?

So far, that's unclear. But all these questions will be answered in the research protocol, the details of which "will be communicated in the coming weeks," the tourism ministry said.

This protocol will first be submitted to an ethics committee and then reviewed by both the provincial and regional public health departments.

Quebec will also make an announcement in the coming weeks on who will headline the show. The only thing we know for sure: the concert will be free, said the tourism ministry.

- This article was produced with the financial support of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Program and was first published by te Canadian Press in French on July 20, 2021.

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