According to Klaus Lederer, a politician with the left-wing Die Linke party and Berlin’s current state minister for culture, Berlin’s local government gladly supplied the roughly 40,000 euros to cover the costs of all the P.C.R. tests for this experiment because “club culture is a part of Berlin culture.”
Mr. Lederer told reporters crammed into a doorway outside the Metropol nightclub on the first night of the pilot project that keeping shuttered clubs afloat was costing taxpayers a lot of money.
Dr. Frank Heppner, a Charité professor and researcher who worked with Mr. Lederer, stated that P.C.R. tests were required for the study because rapid antigen tests are “leaky and not ideal.”
“You must use the best, most sensitive tool to filter out potential positives,” he explained.
The pilot project mirrored other recent experiments in Germany, such as protocol testing at Berlin classical concert venues this spring and an electronic music festival outside the city this summer.
“We know, after a very long period of lockdown, that we have severe collateral effects on society that you must also consider. “You can’t just focus on the virus and its immediate consequences,” Dr. Heppner explained. “You must also consider the indirect consequences on a social, psychological, and economic level.”
For the time being, the club reopenings have pushed the club study to the sidelines. However, Lutz Leichsenring, a spokesman for the Club Commission, stated that if infections spike this fall, the P.C.R. testing strategy remains a viable option in lieu of new closures or tighter restrictions. In August, Berlin’s clubs lined up lab partners to offer club special 15 euro P.C.R. tests — a significant sum in a city where door fees rarely exceed 20 euros, but with results guaranteed within four hours.
Another lockdown would be a “worst-case scenario that would eliminate a lot of jobs,” according to Mr. Leichsenring. However, he believes that research into quick-turnaround P.C.R. tests could lead to alternatives “so we can at least ensure that people who go to clubs are safe.”