Flemish people tempted to avoid events until end of crisis citing loose measures

Flemish people tempted to avoid events until end of crisis citing loose measures
Credit: Belga

Some 59% of Flemish people have said they want to avoid events as much as possible until the coronavirus crisis is over, stating they don’t feel safe with the current measures in place.

Around one in five respondents (47%) stated that the coronavirus measures taken are not strict enough, according to a survey, conducted by the Karel de Grote Hogeschool (KdG) in Antwerp’s Public Impact expertise centre that questioned around 1,000 people in the region.

Meanwhile, 59% of respondents said that the measures that are in place are not monitored enough, resulting in them losing their impact, and 62% of people said the rules were not being followed by others at the event.

“An important learning is that, despite the coronavirus measures in place, the feeling of insecurity among visitors is high. This is a perception of insecurity of course since it is not known whether events are in fact unsafe despite the measures,” Christine Merckx, head of the expertise centre, told The Brussels Times.

She explained that the communication by the media and government regarding the “spreading effect” of the virus at such events is contributing to this great sense of insecurity, even though the data on this effect within the event and culture sector is not watertight, as it cannot be 100% mapped.

Merckx added that, so far there, has not been a single test event that has shown with certainty the extent to which an event causes coronavirus infections.”

Watertight data and centralised system needed

One of Belgium’s largest event venues, the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, is trying to collect more data on the spread of the virus during events and sent a questionnaire about possible contaminations to people who attended a concert at the venue in November.

Almost 95% of people thought they were not infected with the coronavirus a week after the event, while 3% are sure they were infected the following week, of whom 8% of them claim they were infected during their visit.

Merckx highlighted that these figures too were not watertight, as just 2,000 people of the 200,000 visitors responded to this survey, but that this is a good example of how the spreading effect can be mapped out if done effectively.

“Event organisers can ask about the visitors’ perception of their contamination in a systematic way. For example, linked to a satisfaction survey that organisers send out to visitors after the event,” she explained.

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According to Merckx, these figures should then be compared with the general infection figures and the measures that are taken by the venue itself. She stressed that companies within the sector should also join forces so all the data can be centrally analysed by a research centre to provide valuable insights at a policy level.

“In this way, the sector can intervene more effectively where necessary, and with more appropriate measures at the level of the event location instead of a one-size-fits-all approach as is currently the case.”

The KdG’s Public Impact expertise centre is also conducting a large-scale sector survey regarding the spread of the virus in such venues, of which the results will be published in January.

During the Consultative Committee on 26 November, it was announced that indoor events would only be allowed if the audience is seated. One week later, the same meeting of ministers announced that events with more than 200 attendees would be banned.

Everyone must be seated and wear a face mask, and for events with 50 or more people, showing a valid Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is required.

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