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Netherlands and Denmark go full capacity this summer

Live events will be permitted at full capacity in the Netherlands and Denmark – pre-pandemic, respectively Europe’s fifth- and eighth-largest live music markets – as early as this month provided fans can produce proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

The Dutch minister for economic affairs, Mona Keijzer, announced today (11 June) that ticketed events in the Netherlands may go ahead at 100% capacity after 30 June if they require a vaccination certificate or negative test (the latter a maximum of 40 hours old) from attendees. Currently, a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is required between each eventgoer.

The decision to lift the Netherlands’ final social distancing regulations comes on the back of encouraging results from Fieldlab Evenementen’s Back to Live, the world’s biggest pilot event programme, which revealed that the Covid-19 risk at live events is about the same as bring at home when following hygiene and testing protocols.

“It is great news that events such as festivals and concerts will soon be possible again thanks to the hard work of Fieldlab Evenementen,” says Keijzer. “We now use the insights gained by the Fieldlab organisation to adjust the roadmap. If you have been vaccinated, tested negative or have recovered from Covid-19, you can go to a festival or concert as you could before.”

The new rules initially apply only to ticketed single-day events, though multi-day events and overnight stays will be possible from 29 July, according to NU.nl.

“If you have been vaccinated, tested negative or have recovered from Covid-19, you can go to a festival or concert”

In Denmark, meanwhile, up to 10,000 people will be allowed at “public events” as of Monday (14 June), AFP/Reuters reports, thanks to the country’s Covid-19 ‘passport’, Coronapas, which certifies that the bearer has either tested negative for the coronavirus or is immune/vaccinated.

“We will be able to do everything that we have missed, because we now have the epidemic under control,” Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke told reporters earlier this week.

The loosening of restrictions initially applies only to outdoor events, with 11 August the date when any form of assembly limit (indoors or outdoors) is scheduled to attend, according to The Local. Additionally, there are different rules for music compared to sport and other live events: The live music industry is currently permitted only 2,000 guests for outdoor events and in sections of 500. From 1 July it will be 2,000, in sections of 1,000, and from 15 August it will be 10,000 attendees, albeit in sections of 2,500.

The Danish government is aiming for the Coronapas to be phased out completely by 1 October, when it is hoped enough people will be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The clarification on the rules from August onwards comes too late for Denmark’s major music festivals, which cancelled en masse last month citing a lack of information.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Music venues in the Netherlands to reopen

Music venues in the Netherlands are permitted to reopen from 5 June, when the country enters step three of the government’s reopening plan.

The cabinet announced on Friday (28 May) that cultural venues such as concert halls are allowed to reopen in step 3, subject to certain conditions including booking in advance, health checks and designated seating.

From 5 June, small concert halls can welcome a maximum of 50 visitors, as long as the venue can cater to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule.

Concert halls with at least 1,000 seats can welcome a maximum of 250 socially distanced visitors per room. This applies to all large indoor and outdoor venues including arenas, open-air theatres and concert halls.

Concert halls that opt to use coronavirus entry passes will be permitted to host as many people as they can accommodate provided they’re seated and socially distanced.

Concert halls with at least 1,000 seats can welcome a maximum of 250 socially distanced visitors per room

The relatively stringent measures come in spite of findings from three months’ worth of pilot events which show that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.

The pilot events were conducted by Fieldlab Evenementen, an initiative of the Dutch government and several trade bodies, which concluded that shows may return safely at 100% capacity, even under the Netherlands’ ‘concern’ (zorgelijk) coronavirus risk level.

It looks like that won’t be a possibility for the Netherlands until late summer at the earliest, according to the government’s roadmap.

The fourth step of the reopening plan is planned for 30 June, when events can take place without a designated seating plan – provided social distancing is observed and entry passes are used. Events must also take account of local rules and requirements, such as permits. The government will decide on 22 June whether to implement step 4 as planned.

The final step, step 5, will see the government lift restrictions and remove the entry pass system. However, there’s no specified date for step 5 as the government says it will be determined by the number of infections and hospital admissions.

 


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Fieldlab results: Infection risk ‘same as at home’

The findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands show that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home, organiser Fieldlab Evenementen has revealed.

Fieldlab – an initiative of the Dutch government and several trade bodies, including the pan-industry Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers (Alliance of Event Builders) – kicked off its Back to Live series of test events in February, with the most recent event, the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, taking place on 22 May with 3,500 fans in attendance. Other Fieldlab events included business conferences, festivals, arena shows, an awards ceremony and outdoor sports events in a range of formats and capacities.

The results from the first phase of the Back to Live pilots – all small, ‘type-one’ events with assigned seats, including a conference and a comedy show – were released in April, and showed that these types of events are safe without social distancing at 50% capacity.

More significantly, the findings released this week by Fieldlab, which draw on events such as a 1,300-person arena show and two 1,500-person festivals and organised by promoters Mojo and ID&T, conclude that shows may return safely at 100% capacity, even under the Netherlands’ ‘concern’ (zorgelijk) coronavirus risk level.

Based on Fieldlab’s research, led by Prof. Andreas Voss of the Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, the organisation has now issued a series of recommendations, or a ‘matrix’, to the Dutch government demonstrating how festivals and other live events can be held safely this summer. A final report, which will also include infection figures from Eurovision, will be issued in the coming weeks.

“We can now open, and as an industry need never be completely closed again”

According to the Back to Live data, 100%-capacity events are possible under the Netherlands’ lower two risk levels (caution and concern), with a reduction in capacity necessary for levels three and four (serious and severe, respectively).

By risk level, Fieldlab’s recommendations are:

Riemer Rijpkema, a spokesperson for corporate events association Eventplatform and deputy chair of Fieldlab’s steering group, calls on the Dutch government to act on Fieldlab’s conclusions. “Fieldlab Evenementen have delivered great results to the cabinet, as well as concrete tools on how to act in each phase of the pandemic. We call on the members of the cabinet to adopt this matrix, embrace and use it for reformulating the regulations.

“There is a wealth of information from which one can learn in both the short and long term. We can now open, and as an industry need never be completely closed again.”

“Provided you take the right measures, the risk of getting infected at a Fieldlab event is the same as at home”

Willem Westermann of the Alliance of Event Builders, which represents live entertainment and sports professionals, adds: “The cabinet now has in their hands the key to to give the green light for the festival summer. The Fieldlab researchers have shown that this can be done, with additional measures and if we consider the risk level.

“Practical tests have shown that visitors are quite prepared, for example, to cooperate by having a rapid test beforehand. If the infrastructure for testing is properly put in place and the cabinet endorses these conclusions, there is almost nothing in the way of a great summer for the events industry.”

While the majority of Dutch regions are still in level four (severe), this should come down as the Netherlands’ vaccine roll-out continues. The government’s most recent weekly report on infection figures, issued on Tuesday (25 May), shows a “steady” downward trend in new cases of Covid-19.

Speaking to local broadcaster RTV Rijnmond, Fieldlab’s Dimitri Bonthuis says the team are “very happy with the results” from the Back to Live events. “It is absolutely good news,” he says. “Provided you take the right measures, the risk of getting infected at a Fieldlab event is the same as at home.”

The Fieldlab results follow similar positive data out of studies in the UK, Spain and Germany, all of which showed that live events do not pose a risk to public health while Covid-19 is still a threat.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Thousands attend Eurovision Song Contest 2021

Organisers have hailed as a success the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which, with 3,500 Covid-negative live music fans in attendance, was the biggest indoor pilot event held in the Netherlands to date.

The 2021 contest, the first since 2019, concluded at the 16,500-capacity Ahoy arena in Rotterdam on Saturday (22 May), with Italian band Måneskin crowned the winner for their song ‘Zitti e buoni’. In total, 26 countries made it to the final, with all but one (Iceland’s Daði og Gagnamagnið, one of whom tested positive for Covid-19) performing live from the arena on the night.

This year’s competition took the form of a pilot show, welcoming an in-person audience as part of the government-approved Back to Live series, coordinated by pan-industry body Fieldlab Events. To gain entry to the arena, everyone involved – including performers, fans, country delegations, press, staff and crew – had to register a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 48 hours, and then get tested again once on site at the dedicated Eurovision test pavilion (pictured).

Eurovision Test Pavilion

In addition, social distancing was enforced throughout the venue, while masks had to be worn whenever people moved around the arena (even performers on their way to the stage).

As a Fieldlab event, no persons deemed to be at risk, such as the elderly, were eligible to apply for tickets – which caused some controversy in the run-up to the show, with former Eurovision winner Getty Kaspers (of Teach-In) among those to criticise the ‘no over-70s’ rule.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a turning point for me”

Among the fans who were successful in getting tickets, the atmosphere at the Ahoy was celebratory. “Everyone is decked out in flags and costumes with a lot of glitter,” one attendee, Deuss, tells public broadcaster NOS. “The atmosphere is cheerful and exuberant. People here feel that they are the lucky ones.”

Jolanda Jansen, director of Rotterdam Ahoy and a spokesperson for Fieldlab member Alliance of Event Builders, says seeing the arena full of staff and fans was her highlight of Eurovision week.

“The moment that moved me the most was seeing all our colleagues happy at work again,” she tells Tubantia. “We’ve come a long way; 2020 was a terrible year. We had to let 40% of the workforce go.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a turning point for me. From now on it will only get better.”

According to Dutch economic minister, the provisional results from the second phase of Fieldlab/Back to Live events are positive. The full results, which follow the similarly positive findings from the first test events in February, will be announced in the near future.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Road to recovery: A timeline of pilot projects

In August 2020, Germany paved the way for live music pilot projects with Restart-19, an experiment which saw thousands of volunteers to take part in a concert at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko.

Since then, similar experiments have popped up across the globe. From Spain to Singapore, test events with as few as 50 participants and as many as 5,000 have taken place to prove to authorities (and the world) that when it comes to safety and security, the live music industry knows what it’s doing.

Below is a timeline of the pilot projects that have taken place since late summer 2020 – all of which have proved, in one way or another, that the live entertainment sector can reopen safely under certain measures – as well as the tests that are on the horizon in 2021.

August 2020

Restart-19
When: 22 August 2020
Where: Quarterback Immobilien Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Who: University Medical Center of Halle
What they said: “[T]he contacts that do occur at an event do not involve all participants. Therefore, events could take place under specific conditions during a pandemic.”
Participants: 1,500

November 2020

Konzerthaus Dortmund (study)
When: 2–3, 20 November 2020
Where: Konzerthaus Dortmund, Germany
Who: Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute Goslar, ParteQ
What they said: “Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection. […] With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

December 2020

Primacov
When: 12 December 2020
Where: Apolo, Barcelona, Spain
Who: Primavera Sound, Germans Trias Hospital, the Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation
What they said: “A live music concert, staged with a series of security measures that included a negative antigen test for Sars- CoV-2 done on the same day, was not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections.”
Participants: 1,047

Philharmonie de Paris (study)
When: 16 December 2020
Where: Philharmonie de Paris, France
Who: Dassault Systèmes
What they said: “The combination of face masks with a fresh-air supply built into every seat gives the indoor Philharmonie a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other.”

Back to Live (SG)
When: 18–19 December 2020 Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay, Singapore
Who: AEG Presents, Collective Minds
What they said: “[T]he outcome of such pilots will be critical to our ongoing efforts to allow events of a larger scale to resume in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Participants: 500

February 2021

Because Music Matters
When: 10–14 February
Where: Rockhal, Luxembourg
Who: Rockhal
What they said: “Building confidence among all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important.”
Participants: 100 per night

Back to Live (NL)
When: 15, 20, 21, 28 February & 6, 7, 20, 21 March 2021
Where: The Netherlands
Who: Fieldlab Evenementen
What they said: “We can now show that we can organise events in a very safe way. […] We hope this can lead to a tailor- made reopening of venues.”
Participants: Varies between events

March 2021

Love of Lesbian
When: 27 March 2021
Where: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona
Who: Festivals per la Cultura Segura
What they said: The event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed.
Participants: 5,000

The Berlin Philharmonic
When: 20 March 2021
Where: Chamber Music Hall, Berlin
Who: Pilotprojekt, Berlin department of culture
What they said: ‘Zero infections among the 1,000 people who attended the show is further proof that events can be organised safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.’
Participants: 680

April 2021

Jonathan theatre performance
When: 26 April–9 May 2021
Where: Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS), Belgium
Who: KVS and Belgium’s Ministry of Culture
What they said: “An important observation is that the CO2 value and the relative humidity have barely increased. We saw the figure increase from 500 ppm to 600 ppm, while the maximum permitted value is 1200 ppm. This is of course only a first indication.”
Participants: 50–250

May 2021

Events Research Programme
When: April/May 2021
Where: Sefton Park and Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, Brit Awards in London, The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and more
Who: Festival Republic, Circus, BPI, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and more
What they said: “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts but will work flat out to make that happen.”
Participants: 300–21,000

TBC 2021

Denmark Trials
When: TBC 2021
Where: Denmark
Who: Dansk Live, Divisionsforeningen
What they said: “This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many great concert experiences across the country in 2021.”

Paris test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Accor Arena, Paris
Who: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, St Louis Hospital, Prodiss
Participants: 5,000

Marseille test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Dôme, Marseille
Who: The city of Marseille, Inserm, Béatrice Desgranges (Marsatac, SMA)
Participants: 1,000

 


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Fieldlab vouches for 50-75% cap outdoor events

Fieldlab Events, the initiative behind a swathe of test shows in the Netherlands, has told the Dutch government that outdoor events should be allowed to take place at 50-75% of normal visitor capacity without social distancing, under certain measures.

The recommendations are based on the results of Fieldlab’s first outdoor tests, which comprised two football matches with 1,500 spectators each and one with 5,000 spectators.

Research was conducted using Fieldlab’s risk model which is aimed at limiting the residual risk that arises from events and considers factors including visitor behaviour, track and trace, rapid tests, occupancy and social distancing.

Research at three football matches showed that larger outdoor events are possible under the following strict conditions in the current Corona situation:

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results.

Earlier this month, Fieldlab shared findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show.

The Dutch initiative found that indoor seated events should be able to take place at 50% occupancy without social distancing. See more here.

 


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10,000-person pilot event called off amid unrest

The future of the Netherlands’ highly publicised pilot events are in doubt after local authorities today (19 April) forced the cancellation of 538 Koningsdag, a 10,000-person festival which would have been the series’ largest event to date.

Fieldlab Evenementen, the industry-backed body responsible for organising the successful Back to Live series of test concerts, conferences, festivals and club events, announced last week that phase two of Back to Live would include 538 Koningsdag (‘King’s Day’) on 24 April, as well as a 3,500-person concert on 7 May and another nightclub event on 15 May.

While the shows to date – which, like pilot events in other countries, aim to test how coronavirus may be transmitted between audience members in a range of formats – have generally been received positively by music fans and in the wider industry, a backlash has been growing in recent days over the perceived cost of Back to Live, as well as the appropriateness of holding large events before enough Dutch have received Covid-19 vaccines.

While many of the objections are based on misinformation – for example, one popular tweet appears to confuse the €925 million the government has set aside for its Testen voor Toegang (Testing for Access) programme with Fieldlab’s costs, estimated at under €3m – a petition calling on organisers to cancel 538 Koningsdag appears to have genuine support, having drawn more than 370,000 signatures since Saturday.

The petitioners focus on the festival’s location in the city of Breda, near a hospital, as their chief grievance, writing that “celebrating a party with 10,000 people 400 metres from a hospital overloaded by Covid-19 is a blow to patients and caregivers”.

“The police are getting more and more signals that 538 Oranjedag will attract both supporters and opponents of Fieldlab”

Ultimately, the Dutch government left the decision to city authorities, which decided today to decline a permit for the event, this year also called 538 Oranjedag (‘Orange Day’), citing the potential for disruption at the festival.

“The police are getting more and more signals that 538 Oranjedag will attract both supporters and opponents of the [government’s] coronavirus policy and Fieldlab, with all the associated security risks,” says Breda’s mayor, Paul Depla. “As mayor, I stand for the safety of the police officers, local residents and visitors to the event.”

Everyone who bought tickets for the festival will be refunded, says Radio 538.

Another Fieldlab event, Startschotgala (1 May) in Lichtenvoorde – another festival-type event that sold all 10,000 tickets in just ten minutes – will also be called off, and more cancellations are expected, according to local media.

Annette Bronsvoort, mayor of Oost Gelre, says the cancellation was the decision of organisers, not the city. “This is because of the social debate, and the pressure on healthcare,” she says in a statement. “I understand this decision and I respect it. ”

Preliminary results from the first Back to Live shows in February revealed that the risk of transmission in a live environment is low, tallying with studies from other countries – and a result organisers had hoped to replicate with the larger events.

At press time, the Netherlands had 8,505 new cases of Covid-19.

 


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More than 1m registrations for 10k Fieldlab test

More than a million residents have signed up for Fieldlab’s largest test event yet, the 10,000-capacity 538 Koningsdag (King’s Day) festival in the Netherlands.

Registrations opened this week to unprecedented demand and all 10,000 tickets were raffled on Thursday (15 April) evening.

The rock and pop festival, which is organised each year by Radio 538, will be held as usual at Chasséveld in Breda on the 24 April.

Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters, Gerard Joling, Kraantje Pappie, Krezip, Kris Kross Amsterdam, Lucas & Steve, Maan, Miss Montreal, Racoon, Rolf and Sanchez.

“Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters and Gerard Joling”

Ticket holders will be required to take a rapid test no more than 24 hours prior to the start of the event and only those with negative results will be admitted.

Attendees must also take a second rapid test five days after the event. Vulnerable groups are excluded from participation.

538 Koningsdag is just one of many large-scale test events announced by the Dutch initiative. Yesterday evening the 3FM Awards 2021 took place at TivoliVredenburg, attended by 1,000 visitors.

Other upcoming large-scale Fieldlab events include a Racoon concert on 7 May (3,500 people) and a nightclub test event in Amsterdam on 15 May, which can be attended by 1,000 people.

Alongside the government-approved Fieldlab tests, the state has also announced 80 concerts across nine days as part of an extensive pilot programme of cultural activities – marking a test event boom in the Netherlands.

 


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Fieldlab announces test event for 10,000 visitors

Fieldlab Evenementen, the Dutch initiative behind the Back to Live series, has received permission from the government to scale up its forthcoming test events.

538 Koningsdag (King’s Day), a rock and pop festival that takes place annually at Chasséveld in Breda, will be the largest Fieldlab test event so far, admitting 10,000 visitors.

The festival will take place on 24 April with artists including Snollebollekes, Davina Michelle, Chef’Special and Di-rect.

The event marks a second phase of the Fieldlab test events, whereby the organisers will trial certain measures with increased visitor capacities.

“It is great that we can do these upscaling tests, where we can test previously acquired knowledge with higher visitor numbers,” says Marcel Elbertse, chairman of Fieldlab Events.

“We are well aware that this is an absolute privilege, especially with the current epidemiological picture”

“We are well aware that this is an absolute privilege, especially with a look at the current epidemiological picture, where easing is not yet forthcoming. However, this new research is essential for the second phase of Fieldlab Events.”

Other upcoming large-scale Fieldlab events include the 3FM Awards taking place today (15 April) with 1,500 visitors, a Racoon concert on 7 May (3,500 people) and a nightclub test event in Amsterdam on 15 May, which can be attended by 1,000 people.

It was announced at the beginning of April that the Eurovision Song Contest would also become a Fieldlab test event, for which 3,500 people a day will be admitted to the 16,426-capacity Rotterdam Ahoy arena from 18 to 22 May.

Fieldlab recently shared the findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show by the Dutch comedian Guido Weijers. The Back to Live series also included concerts, festivals and other live events.

See an overview of upcoming Fieldlab test results below:

15 April – 3FM Awards – TivoliVredenburg Utrecht – 1,500 visitors
24 April – De Efteling Kaatsheuvel – 8,000 visitors
24 April – 538 Orange Day – Chasséveld Breda – 10,000 visitors
1 May – Starting shot gala – Event area Lichtenvoorde – 10,000 visitors
7 May – Concert Racoon – Mainstage Den Bosch – 3,500 visitors
8 May – Mud Masters – Floriade terrain Haarlemmermeer – 9,000 visitors
14 May – The Residentie Orkest – Zuiderstrandtheater The Hague – 1,000 visitors
15 May – Nightclub – Club (tbc) Amsterdam – 1,000 visitors
16 May – Enschede Marathon – Twenthe Airport Event location Enschede – 5,000 visitors
17 to 22 May – Eurovision Song Contest – Ahoy Rotterdam – 9 x 3,500 visitors
20 May – EventSummit – Jaarbeurs Utrecht – 3,000 visitors
Date TBC – Back to Live – Walibi Event area Walibi Holland Biddinghuizen – 9,000 visitors

 


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Fieldlab shares results of initial Back to Live tests

Seated indoor events can take place as soon as possible – even with a high prevalence of Covid-19 infections – provided a certain set of measures are adhered to, according to a study conducted by Fieldlab Evenementen.

The Dutch initiative has shared the findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show by the Dutch comedian Guido Weijers. Each event took place during February at the Beatrix Theater, Utrecht, with around 500 attendees.

Based on the results of the study, Fieldlab says that these so-called ‘type 1 events’, which take place indoors, with seats and where the public behaves calmly, can take place with 50% occupancy and without social distancing.

However, visitors must be tested before and after the event and wear a mask while walking around the venue. The recommendations are also based on a venue having good ventilation and separating large groups of visitors.

“Indoor, seated events, where the public behaves calmly, can take place with 50% occupancy and without social distancing”

Fieldlab has now presented the research results to the Dutch government and hopes that the Outbreak Management Team will provide advice on organising events in the near future.

The researchers say the results of the study are “encouraging”, noting that 98.4% of the visitors who attended the events adhered to the instructions and 80% of the visitors downloaded the CoronaMelder app in advance, so that track and trace could be carried out easily.

The number of contacts within a meter and a half and lasting longer than 15 minutes was limited, especially during the theatre test. This number was higher at the conference because people actively sought out colleagues and peers.

The Back to Live series, which has so far included concerts, festivals and other live events, will continue with the 3FM Awards in a few days time and the Eurovision Song Contest in May.

Alongside the Fieldlab events, the Netherlands will also host more than 80 concerts across nine days as part of an extensive pilot programme of cultural activities, announced by the Dutch government.

 


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