Yes to kissing, no to social distancing and face masks: Pukkelpop wants full-fledged festival

Yes to kissing, no to social distancing and face masks: Pukkelpop wants full-fledged festival
Credit: Pukkelpop Festival/Facebook

Following the announcement from the government on large-scale events on Tuesday, Pukkelpop has announced it will continue this year at full capacity, or 66,000 visitors a day.

After cancelling its 2020 edition due to the coronavirus crisis and the restrictions imposed to combat it in Belgium, Pukkelpop will take place this year from 19 to 22 August.

"There will be a few changes, but it will be non-social distance and you won't have to wear a face mask. It doesn't have to be seated, you can walk around and you can kiss each other," organiser Chokri Mahassine said on Studio Brussel.

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The Consultative Committee announced its broader "summer plan" on Tuesday, making it possible to organise larger events, such as festivals, outside again from 13 August.

"The participants will have to have proof of vaccination or a negative test," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo emphasised.

Mahassine reiterated that vaccinated attendees have to show a vaccination passport and that people who don't have one can simply get tested. "If they have tested negative, they can enter easily our festival," he said.

Although the exact organisation of these testings remain unclear, according to Pukkelpop, it expects that the government will communicate how to implement this to the event sector in the coming hours and days.

"Our greatest ambition is to make Pukkelpop the safest haven for young people. The safety of our visitors, artists, crew and local residents remains our top priority. Everything else will follow from there," Mahassine said in a press release. 

Tomorrowland, which announced in March that it would be delaying its 2021 edition until the end of August and the start of September, said it is studying the guidelines and parameters set out by the government in the next few days, and will properly communicate the different scenarios and implications of these guidelines.

"We are delighted and grateful to hear that the government has given a realistic perspective for large festivals in Belgium towards the end of the summer. With a combination of vaccination and rapid testing at the door, we believe we can make Tomorrowland a safe place," the organisation said in a press release. 

The French-speaking Minister for Culture, Bénédicte Linard, welcomed the decisions made by the Consultative Committee on Tuesday, saying they provided the cultural world and the public with "clear perspectives for a gradual resumption of cultural activities over the long term."

"By giving a timetable and gauges that cross several parts of our society, it has taken the measure of the necessary rebalancing between the different sectors and is resolutely taking the path of risk management that no longer pits one against the other," he said.

However, some large-scale festivals in Belgium, including Graspop and Rock Werchter, as well as smaller events such as LaSemo festival, Les Ardentes festival in Liège, and the Brussels Summer Festival (BSF), which said the measures involve too many constraints and uncertainties to be able to organise the festival in its usual format, already postponed this year's editions to 2022.

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