'Our heart bleeds': Pukkelpop cancels this year's festival after all

'Our heart bleeds': Pukkelpop cancels this year's festival after all
Pukkelpop festival grounds in 2015. Credit: Pukkelpop Festival.

After first halting the construction and ticket sales on Thursday, the organisation of Pukkelpop announced that this year's edition of the music festival will be cancelled after all.

The stricter rules for testing, which were announced by the Consultative Committee on Monday, made testing the public unfeasible, the organisation said in a statement shared via its social media channels.

"The current framework has made it impossible for us to organise Pukkelpop," the statement reads. "The additional demands in terms of testing would require us to almost triple the testing capacity at and in the run-up to the festival."

Originally, a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of arrival was enough but on Monday, this was reduced to 48 hours. Additionally, a negative antigen test was no longer sufficient, but since Thursday, antigen testing is allowed again. However, the initial validity of 48 hours was reduced to 24 hours.

"Initially, we planned for a capacity of up to 7,000 tests per day at the Pukkelpop site but the 24/48 hour limit for the validity of, respectively, a rapid antigen test or a PCR test means that we would have to triple this capacity," the festival stated.

"To put things into perspective: this is five times the maximum capacity of this country's largest test villages," it added. "There is no way we could guarantee the government we can organise this under safe circumstances."

"This is simple math and a healthy dose of common sense."

Despite the best efforts of the Vaccination Task Force and the many vaccination centres in the province of Limburg and beyond, the festival is forced to conclude that the vaccination rate within its target demographic is not as it had hoped.

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"Almost 8 in 10 of our young audience would have to submit to testing. For a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, many of which have not had the opportunity to get vaccinated, daily testing of so many youngsters is simply not feasible."

Additionally, the festival stated that it "deeply regrets" the fact that the authorities made this decision just one month before the start of the festival. However, the Covid measures were always going to be subject to the latest developments, it added.

"As a result, Pukkelpop 2021 can no longer take place as planned, and is postponed to 2022.

Following consultations with the Pukkelpop team, the federal government has today decided not to allow the festival to proceed in its current form, according to the organisation.

"Our heart bleeds, especially for all those youngsters who were so looking forward to Pukkelpop this year," the statement reads.

People who have bought a ticket will be contacted via email before 8 August. They will be given a choice to have their ticket refunded or automatically rolled over to next year's edition, which will take place from Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 August 2022.

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