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Netherlands implements strict rules for one-day festivals

Illustration image. Credit: Pxhere

On Monday, the Netherlands announced “strict conditions” for one-day festivals, which will be possible again from Saturday 14 August, after cancelling all multi-day summer events last week.

From mid-August, festivals lasting only one day will be allowed again, for up to 750 visitors. However, visitors do not need fixed seating.

“Unfortunately, the situation now is that one-day festivals can only take place under strict conditions until 1 September,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during a press conference.

The events have to take place outdoors, or in a tent that is open on four sides to guarantee sufficient ventilation.

Additionally, all attendees have to prove that they have been vaccinated, have recently recovered from the coronavirus, or have a negative test result.

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The decision by the Dutch authorities on whether or not one-day festivals could continue was not expected until 13 August, but as the organisers considered that too late for practical reasons, the government requested the advice of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT).

At the moment, the OMT only considers it responsible to allow small events to go ahead, meaning that events with more than 750 attendees but without overnight stays, such as Dutch Valley or Tropikali, cannot take place either.

However, it is still possible that the situation will change by 13 August, but the authorities wanted to give the sector clarity as soon as possible, according to Rutte.

“Should anything change after 13 August, organisers can still choose to allow their festival to go ahead or appeal to the compensation scheme,” he added.

On Monday 26 July, the Netherlands already announced that all multi-day events that were planned to take place before 1 September – such as the popular Lowlands festival – were cancelled.

According to Belgian virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, the Netherlands initially went too fast by allowing festivals, following the 1,100 confirmed infections after a two-day test festival earlier this month due to the too-long validity of negative test results.

“The idea that with a negative test you can drop all other measures is a false one,” he told The Brussels Times last week.

“You have to see it like a Swiss cheese with many holes: you need several layers on top of each other to control the risks as much as possible,” Van Gucht added.

The advantage of playing it safe and gradually stepping up the pace, like Belgium is doing, is that the number of people allowed at events is increased only gradually, instead of allowed everything at once as the Netherlands did.

“Opening up gradually also means that we also know that, by then, we will have many more people who are fully protected,” Van Gucht added.