Opposition is growing to the organisation of a ‘test event’ in Breda, just over the border with Belgium, intended to bring together 10,000 people in conditions safe against the transmission of Covid-19.
The Breda event is just one of many being tested at museums, amusement parks, theatres, convention centres, football matches and concerts. The idea is to test how events could be organised in the safest possible conditions, for a sector that has been shut down for a year.
Numbers will be limited, for the most part much lower than would normally be the case, and ticket-holders would have to show proof of a negative test taken no more than 48 hours before the event.
The events are being organised by a group called Fieldlab, which was set up by the events sector itself. Doubts have therefore been cast regarding the objectivity of their results, in particular by the Outbreak Management Team, a group of Dutch experts that advises the government.
Concerns include the use of rapid testing and how it is carried out, as well as the sheer number of test events being organised. Each event necessarily creates a large number of otherwise unnecessary travel movements, as well as additional human contacts.
And Fieldlab has itself admitted that the number of new infections that may or may not be caused by their events is not part of their research.
In Breda, meanwhile, a petition has been started against a planned test event to take place next week in the centre of the city, involving 10,000 members of the public, not 400m from a hospital where the intensive care unit is at full capacity of Covid patients. The petition was started by one of the hospital doctors.
“It consists of numerous different events,” explained VRT correspondent Joris Van Poppel on Radio 1.
“Museums, amusement parks, theatres, cafes, business conferences, football matches and a concert with 10,000 visitors.”
The petition has already gathered 30,000 signatures from health workers, patients and their families against the event, described as a ‘pseudo-experiment’.
“Celebrating a party with 10,000 people, 400 metres from a Covid-overloaded hospital, is a slap in the face to patients and caregivers,” the petition says.