Four Global Predictions: Mass Testings and the Rebirth of the Nightlife

An overview to the international structure of corona-security measures


The UK government has announced testing for COVID-19, with the goal of running up to 10 million tests per day. For reference, the UK has a population of about 65 million people. The plan, appropriately called Operation Moonshot, is being called into questions over its incredible costs and reliance on non-existent technology, yet mass-testing could help nightlife start back up.

What does it mean for music?

Right now, most testing regimes will only test those suspected to be infected with the coronavirus. Mass testing regimes go further and can also test people who are believed to be healthy. This helps catch asymptomatic carriers. For music, this means that full-capacity gigs can become a lot safer to the point of being feasible, because you would no longer have to plan for an asymptomatic coronavirus carrier being part of your audience (or staff).

But, not so fast…

The weakest link in a system is often the human being. There are many examples from around the world of people breaking quarantine and infecting a lot of other people. Currently, a region in Germany’s southeast is dealing with a nightlife-related outbreak stemming from someone breaking quarantine rules.

Earlier this year, South Korea did an impressive job containing the pandemic through mass testing, but when there was a cluster of outbreaks related to a superspreader attending clubs popular with LGBTQ people, authorities had trouble tracking & tracing all attendees. Due to the prejudices present in the country, many people used fake names. Providing anonymous testing helped people to come forward.

So mass testing is not a silver bullet and there would still be a lot of work cut out for venues to guarantee their guests’ safety and that of their communities.

I’ve seen some places make all attendees sign in on large A4 sheets which carry everyone’s personal details. Of course people are uncomfortable making their address, phone number, and email available for anyone to see. A good example of a locally developed digital solution is Closecontact which makes everything a lot more private.

Then there’s all the other vectors:

Diversities for global applications

The landscape will get increasingly complex as countries start defining their own strategies and experiments. There are:

  • Countries with strict mass testing regimes in place;
  • Countries with extremely strict travel restrictions (like New Zealand);
  • Countries that slowly relax measures to a point where the spread rate stays manageable (like Germany);
  • Countries that lift measures quickly, but may also have to reinstate them quickly (the Czech Republic and Israel come to mind);
  • Countries that errm… well, the US comes to mind.

Adding future vaccine rollouts to the mix will add another dimension to complexity. How do countries deal with travelers from unvaccinated countries? How do vaccinated countries deal with people traveling to and from countries with a different vaccine (or vaccines that were not properly tested, like Russia and potentially India)?


  • Difficult tour planning will lead to mini-tours and hybrid tours (real events mixed with geofenced livestreams to audiences in places that are harder to go to).
  • We’ll see the event industry juggling with lots of postponements relating to local lockdowns, artists becoming quarantined, staff becoming quarantined, or travel restrictions.
  • There will be livestreaming replacements of real shows, as not everything can be postponed. These will be great case studies.
  • We’ll see artists and businesses get more creative with their business models, as it becomes clear that just ‘holding out’ until 2021 was never a great strategy.