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Dutch biz calls for speedy reopening

The Dutch events industry is calling for a fresh approach to the Covid-19 crisis as prime minister Mark Rutte begins his fourth term in office.

The new cabinet is due to meet today (13 January) to discuss whether to ease the full lockdown that has been in place since 19 December, during which time music venues have been closed and events banned, with plans to implement a 2G system on hold.

As a result of the measures, this month’s ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) European festival and conference in Groningen has moved entirely online for the second consecutive year.

The live sector is seeking “constructive discussions” with government officials, and is appealing for the authorities to show “courage and decisiveness” in their decisions.

“Support packages and guarantee schemes may have been helpful, but a quick opening is now vital”

“It is clear that the approach so far has not resulted in a structurally open society,” says Jolanda Jansen of the Alliance of Event Builders. “It is also clear that society has a great need for a different approach. After two years, we know a lot about the virus and the impact of measures on society.

“Health is more than the absence of Covid. The negative consequences, both social and economic, are greater than ever and support for the policy is declining sharply. The scenarios on which the current lockdown was based have fortunately not turned out to be true; [leading to] this urgent call to lift the lockdown and come up with a reopening plan.”

Last year, the Dutch government announced a €15m fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows – on top of its €385m guarantee fund.

“For the events sector, the support packages and guarantee schemes may have been helpful, but a quick opening is now vital,” insists Riemer Rijpkema of the EventPlatform. “The urgency is great for the visitors and the artists, but also for us as organisers, suppliers and locations – to retain staff and offer prospects to entrepreneurs and to preserve and not let the once thriving and internationally renowned sector go to waste.

“The starting point must therefore be: open the [market] as soon as possible and do what is necessary to prevent the damage from being irreparable.”


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Dutch festival organisers dealt another big blow

Only small, one-day festivals will be permitted to take place in the Netherlands this summer, the Dutch government has announced.

From 14 August, events with a maximum of 750 attendees can take place provided they meet a series of restrictions.

Attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from infection within the past six months, or present a negative test from Testing for Access. Visitors are also asked to take a test five days after the event. The events are not allowed closed festival tents.

Multi-day festivals with overnight stays are not allowed until at least 1 September, after the government last week extended the ban.

Events that cannot meet the aforementioned restrictions will not be covered by the government’s guarantee fund.

In addition to the measures for the event sector, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte also announced that those who get the Janssen jab will not be considered fully vaccinated until four weeks after, rather than two.

“[The government’s decision is] a bitter pill for the industry that has been closed for so long”

The Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers) has reacted to the news: “Unfortunately, we conclude that the government is once again imposing a major restriction on the events today. As a result, the event industry is again faced with serious disappointment.

“After the multi-day festivals with camping last week, many one-day festivals and multi-day festivals without camping are now also deleted from the summer calendar. A hard decision and of course another big blow, a very sad observation and bitter pill for the industry that has been closed for so long.

“We will soon resume talks [with the government] for the period after 1 September. With the further increase in vaccination coverage and the insights from the Fieldlab Events studies, the Alliance is committed to a responsible, full opening of the planned events.”

Initially, the government was due to give a decision on one-day events without overnight stays on 13 August but the date was brought forward at the request of the events sector.

It’s like that the summary proceedings that promoter ID&T filed against the government also played a role in bringing the decision forward.

The event organiser – which has been forced to cancel events including Mysteryland – and 44 industry peers have filed a lawsuit against the government because they believed a decision on 13 August would be too late. The preliminary relief proceedings have been temporarily adjourned pending today’s decision.

The lawyer representing ID&T and co-claimants has contacted the state lawyer to request the Outbreak Management Team’s advice and the substantiation of the decision. ID&T will consider these documents and decide within two days whether the summary proceedings will be continued.


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