If Pukkelpop can’t meet the conditions, it can’t take place, says Vandenbroucke
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If Pukkelpop can’t meet the conditions, it can’t take place, says Vandenbroucke

Credit: Belga/Jonas Roosens

It is understandable that it is not easy for large festivals to meet all the requirements imposed by the Consultative Committee, but they will not be able to take place if they cannot, according to Belgium’s Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

On Thursday, the organisation of Pukkelpop announced that it was halting the construction of the festival site and taking the ticket sales offline until there was clarity about the rules for testing, which were announced by the authorities on Monday.

“I understand that it is not easy to live up to [the rules]. The assessment is up to Pukkelpop,” Vandenbroucke said on Flemish radio on Friday. “If Pukkelpop cannot comply, then it will not go ahead.”

The rules, as announced by the Consultative Committee on Monday, state that people wanting to go to a festival have to be fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test result no more than 48 hours old, or a negative rapid antigen test (as taken by pharmacists for example) no more than 24 hours old.

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For a four-day festival such as Pukkelpop, that means that these tests have to be repeated every two days (PCR) or even daily (rapid antigen). Organising that is not easy, according to the festival.

“Pukkelpop said that it was possible to organise the festival in a safe way,” Vandenbroucke said, adding that the rules are clear and relatively simple, and that he does not intend to change them.

“The Flemish government’s plan at the beginning of the summer also included the possibility of allowing Pukkelpop to go ahead,” he said. “The festival then said that it perfectly possible to test everyone on the site every day.”

“We actually ask less than that now. If they cannot meet the rules, all due respect and understanding,” Vandenbroucke said. “If they say they cannot live up to it, then it is not going to happen.”

Currently, Pukkelpop is still set to take place from 19 to 22 August in Kiewit, near Hasselt, with a permitted audience of 66,000 per day.

The festival organisation is expected to communicate later today about whether or not the festival will go ahead.

Update: In the meantime, Pukkelpop has announced that the festival will not take place this year. The latest information can be found here.