Irish company Ryans Cleaning took part in an outdoor pilot event at Sefton Park in Liverpool this weekend as part of the UK Government's Covid Events Research Programme.

Ryans Cleaning, based in Thurles in Co Tipperary, has been involved in the event cleaning industry for over 30 years.

With a capped capacity of 7,500, Sefton Park is one of many such pilot events supported by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Researchers are examining the movements and behaviour of the crowds at each event.

The collective evidence from the pilots will then be used to inform and shape policy to bring about the phased return of fuller audiences to venues and events across the UK as the Covid-19 restrictions ease.

"It has been surreal to be back on-site at a live gig again after such a long break but it is an honour and a privilege to be part of a pilot event like this which I hope will pave the way forward for the events and entertainment industry who have been essentially shut down for well over a year now," said Aisling Ryan, General Manager of Ryans Cleaning.

Aisling Ryan

Although attendees could move freely without mandatory masks or social distancing at the gig, substantial protocols were in place to trial how to best manage and mitigate transmission risks at the outdoor event.

On-site suppliers and staff like the team at Ryans Cleaning were required to wear PPE as outlined in the Event Management Plan as they went about their duties during the course of the event.

Ticket holders had to take a rapid lateral flow test at a local testing centre 24 hours before entry to ensure their tickets are activated and proof of a negative test result was also required to gain entry. Post-event testing and participation in the NHS Test and Trace programme is also required.

Aisling Ryan said that last weekend's event was double the work and double the staff of a pre-Covid event.

She said it also involved more dedicated staff responsible for specific locations for example the water points, toilets and queue lanes to ensure there is no chance of cross-contamination.

Ms Ryan called on NPHET and the Government here to move sooner rather than later on such activities at home in Ireland.

"There are only a couple of months in the Irish Summer season when we can host outdoor events and we would like to see a plan for the return of the public to gigs, festivals and sporting events," she said.

She said that research has shown that less than 0.1% of the Covid outbreaks in Ireland so far have been traced to outdoor transmission.

"The horse racing industry, which we have been very involved in from a cleaning perspective for decades, has demonstrated this as they have continued to race behind closed doors for months on end," she added.