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Spectacular: 5,000 pack Barcelona rock concert after COVID tests

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BARCELONA, March 27 (Reuters) - Music fans in Barcelona hugged, danced and sang along at a sold-out rock concert on Saturday night after taking rapid COVID-19 tests in a trial that could revive the live music industry in Spain and beyond.

Some 5,000 fans at the show for Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian had to wear masks but social distancing was not required in the Palau Sant Jordi arena.

"It was spectacular. We felt safe at all times. We were in the front row and it was something we'd missed a lot," said publicist Salvador, 29, after the show. "We are very proud to have had the chance to take part in this. We hope it'll be the first of many."

In surreal scenes after a year of social distancing, fans danced up close to one another, but the sea of faces covered in masks showed that things were not quite back to normal.

Health controls at the entrance delayed the start of the concert, but could not dampen the celebratory spirit.

"Welcome to one of the most exciting concerts of our lives!" lead singer Santi Balmes told the crowd to a roar of cheers.

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Healthcare workers prepare to collect swab samples from people, before a concert of "Love of Lesbian" that will take place this afternoon with 5,000 spectators at the Palau Sant Jordi, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Barcelona, Spain, March 27, 2021. REUTERS/ Albert Gea

The government-approved concert served as a test for whether similar events will be able to start up again.

"It will be safer to be in the Palau Sant Jordi than walking down the street," concert co-organiser Jordi Herreruela told Reuters earlier on Saturday.

Pre-concert testing at three Barcelona locations was carried out by 80 nurses wearing full personal protective equipment. Some people winced as nurses swabbed their noses.

By midday, three out of 2,400 people already screened had tested positive and one had come into contact with a positive case, said Dr. Josep Maria Libre, a doctor who oversaw the testing. They were unable to attend the concert and would get a refund.

Attendees received their antigen test results in 10 to 15 minutes via an app on their phones. The test and a mask were included in the ticket price.

"I believe today we have made one thing a reality which is to show the world that culture is safe," said Ramon, a 49-year-old fan.

Reporting by Jordi Rubio and Luis Felipe Castilleja

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