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A German study quantified and compared the risks of aerosol contamination in various public places. Conclusion: cultural places that respect health instructions appear to be safer than those open today.

This is enough to reinforce the many calls for the reopening of cultural places. A study by the Hermann-Rietschel Institute in Berlin concludes that the risk of contamination is no higher in these establishments than in other open public places. And sometimes it is even – by far – the opposite that is true.

According to the findings of this research, if physical distancing and the wearing of a mask are well respected, cinemas, theaters and other concert halls are even the indoor places where the risk of contagion is lowest. The reason: we talk much less there than in a supermarket or a school. And when we do not speak, we do not emit aerosols potentially loaded with viruses, explain the scientists.

In this joint study published on February 10, 2021, Professor Martin Kriegel, physician in immunobiology and director of the German institute, as well as engineer Anne Hartmann analyzed the risks of contagiousness in various indoor public places. “The R-value linked to the situation in cultural institutions – for example theaters, cinemas or museums – is lower than that of classrooms or offices”, conclude these researchers whose results were relayed by Radio Classique and the Belgian public service of RTBF.

The contagion rate, evaluated by the virus circulation indicator (R), would thus be multiplied by two in a supermarket, by three in an open workspace and by six in a school, compared to a theater. Quoted by Der Spiegel, Professor Martin Kriegel therefore believes that with “well thought out and coherent hygiene concepts, certain facilities could be reopened”.

However, the study did not take into account the variants of the coronavirus and the increase in superior contagiousness that they imply. Not enough to reassure the authorities particularly concerned about these variants in recent weeks.

In France, the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot opened the door to a rapid resumption of shows and festivals. The Minister declared herself “very optimistic” at the prospect of the organization of “festivals and seated shows” this summer. “For standing shows, it’s more complicated,” she nevertheless tempered on LCI on February 15.


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