'Not responsible': Netherlands cancels multi-day summer festivals

'Not responsible': Netherlands cancels multi-day summer festivals
Credit: Belga/Jasper Jacobs

The Netherlands is cancelling all multi-day events, such as the Lowlands festival, that were planned to take place before 1 September, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Monday.

Festivals were already suspended until August, when the situation would be evaluated, but the government is now extending that date until 1 September, after the sector asked for clarity sooner.

"Unfortunately, it is not responsible to let those events go ahead," Rutte said at a press conference, adding that organising enough testing capacity to re-test people is more difficult than expected.

It concerns several well-known Dutch festivals such as Lowlands, Down the Rabbit Hole and Mysteryland. Organisers of one-day festivals still have to wait until August for more clarity.

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The decision was taken "in consultation with the events sector," Rutte said, adding that festival organisers are eligible for compensation for the costs they have already incurred.

Even though the number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has been falling again in recent days, the government stated that it considers the risk to be too great.

In Belgium, the music festival Pukkelpop announced last Friday that this year's edition would be cancelled, as the stricter rules for testing made testing the public unfeasible.

The day before, the organisation had already halted the construction of the festival site and taken the ticket sale offline while waiting for clarification from the authorities, after the changes made by the Consultative Committee last Monday.

Originally, a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of arrival was enough but on Monday, this was reduced to 48 hours. Rapid antigen tests are allowed as well, but the initial validity of 48 hours was reduced to 24 hours.

"To put things into perspective: this is five times the maximum capacity of this country’s largest test villages," Pukkelpop said in a statement. "There is no way we could guarantee the government we can organise this under safe circumstances."

The festival has been postponed until Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 August 2022.

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