What is the Events Research Programme (ERP)?

25 May 2021

The government’s publication of 22 February, ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’, describes plans to explore when and how events with larger crowd sizes, less social distancing, or in settings where transmission is more likely, will be able to return safely.

The government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) will oversee this work, bringing findings from across different settings and different sectors to determine a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on events to inform Step 4 of the roadmap from 19 July.

The Events Research Programme will use pilot events incorporating research studies in April, May, June and July 2021 to build evidence on the risks associated with coronavirus transmission, the characteristics of events and surrounding activities, and the extent to which mitigation measures can effectively address these risks. The evidence from these studies will be used to inform the government’s decision around Step 4 of the roadmap and will shape government policy to bring about the phased return of fuller audiences to venues and events up and down England.

Self-controlled case series study

The self-controlled case series study aims to measure the risk of COVID-19 infection associated with attendance at an Events Research Programme event, with each person acting as their own control. Inclusion in the study is conditional on an individual having both attended an ERP event and subsequently testing positive for COVID-19.

Only this group of people will be included in the analysis. The rate of positive testing for COVID-19 will be compared between the 7 day high risk period following attendance at an event with the subsequent 7 day period when infection risk is assumed to be unaffected by attendance at the event.

The study is based on analysing the records of attendees who subsequently request a test from Test and Trace. The PCR test request form asks if you have participated in an ERP event, therefore attendees requesting a test will be flagged. The ERP is a programme designed to better understand and evidence how to safely reopen events. The self-controlled case series study is conducted alongside other research studies to support the objectives of the ERP.