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Mass Outdoor Events and the Spread of a Virus: English Football and Covid-19

Author

Listed:
  • Matthew Olczak

    (Aston Business School, Aston University)

  • J. James Reade

    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

  • Matthew Yeo

    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

Abstract

Mass attendance events are a mainstay of economic and social activity. Whilst the benefits from such interactions are large, they may also facilitate the spread of diseases from person to person. We provide evidence on how mass outdoor gatherings contributed to the spread of Covid-19. We do this by considering how attendance at English football matches in February and March 2020 contributed to Covid-19 cases and deaths in local areas in March and April 2020. The results suggest that an additional match taking place in an area in March increased April Covid deaths in that area by 2 or 3 per 100,000 people. There is also some evidence matches were contributing to the spread of the virus before March. Furthermore, we show that attendance at matches can have this impact even when the stadia in which the matches take place are far from full. Our results also suggest that matches not only impacted on the spread of the virus in the area in which the match took place, but also the area from which the away team’s supporters travelled from. Overall, our analysis suggests that there should be caution in allowing fans to attend matches despite the economic impact playing football behind closed doors has on clubs.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Olczak & J. James Reade & Matthew Yeo, 2020. "Mass Outdoor Events and the Spread of a Virus: English Football and Covid-19," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-19, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
  • Handle: RePEc:rdg:emxxdp:em-dp2020-19
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    File URL: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/economics/emdp202019.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. David Turner & Balázs Égert & Yvan Guillemette & Jarmila Botev, 2021. "The tortoise and the hare: The race between vaccine rollout and new COVID variants," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1672, OECD Publishing.
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    4. J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2022. "Eliminating supportive crowds reduces referee bias," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 60(3), pages 1416-1436, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mass outdoor gatherings; football attendance; Covid-19 transmission; social distancing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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