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BXLBeerFest 2021 cancelled due to fears of new rules

Credit: Jules Johnston

The 2021 edition of BXLBeerFest, set to happen at the end of August, will no longer go ahead due to fears that rising infections in the country could make even the planned scaled-down event impossible. 

In an email sent early on Wednesday, organisers explained that “with all the rules and measurements to follow and the uncertainty, we can’t organise the festival as we see it, as we intend it.”

As such, the festival aims to be next held in 2022, in a blow to organisers and fans alike. 

“With the decrease of the infection numbers earlier this summer/late spring and the ‘GO’ given by our government for the organisation of bigger events we eagerly started planning the 2021 edition,” organisers explained. 

“Unfortunately the guidelines to follow to organise a Covid-safe event issued by the government are demanding to say the least. Even with a tuned-down edition as we planned, it takes much more effort and almost as much man power as with our normal event.”

“We always aimed to have a low threshold event, available to all, being it in atmosphere and entrance and token prices. Organising a smaller event with as much effort as it would take would be a big financial risk.”

Crowds gathered at the 2019 festival. Credit: Jules Johnston

As it stands, the rules for indoor events require: 

  • A seated audience of a maximum 100% of the CIRM capacity, not exceeding 2000 persons until 29 July 2021 and not exceeding 3000 persons from 30 July 2021 onwards, including children up to 12 years old,
  • Visitors may be received in groups of no more than eight people, not including children aged up to and including 12, unless this is impossible due to the nature of the activity,
  • These groups may not change composition during the same activity,
  • Groups of more than eight people are allowed as long as they belong to the same household.

This means that even if the event were to go ahead, it would have to have been a significantly different thing, something organisers were already very much aware of.

“We always aimed to have a low threshold event, available to all, being it in atmosphere and entrance and token prices. Organising a smaller event with as much effort as it would take would be a big financial risk.”

The figures problem

Ultimately, however, the biggest hurdle to the event going ahead was the fear of the unknown.

“The bigger problem however is the recent increase in numbers of infected patients, the rise of the Covid-variants and the idea that the peak has yet to come (end of summer holidays),” organisers added.

Between 18 and 24 July, the average number of deaths due to the virus increased by 100% and now sits at a daily average of 2, bringing the total to 25,230 deaths since the start of the pandemic in Belgium.

During the same period, an average of 1,481 new coronavirus infections was detected per day, a 10% increase from the average of the previous week, according to the latest figures from Sciensano Health Institute published on Wednesday morning.

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“We’re afraid that the government might issue new rules, making it even more difficult to organise BXLBeerFest and making all our efforts so far go in vain,” organisers added. “Going all in, consecrating all our time, starting the build-up, investing money in infrastructure, people and location,… without being sure that things won’t change by the end of August is too much to bear.”

Those who have already bought tickets for the event will be contacted by email by organisers. Anyone who bought a beer pack will be able to pick it up on 21&22 August 2021, as planned. 

“We know this is a let down and we hope we can count on your comprehension and support. This leaves us beaten but not broken, disappointed but not without hope… We’ll be back,” the message ends.