Sunday 17 October 2021

500 guests attend a conference, and 63,000 sign up for festival experiment

500 people attended the Utrecht event. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen ANP

Some 63,000 people have signed up to attend two festivals next month, as part of experiments to assess how and if the coronavirus restrictions can be eased at big public events.

The dates for the festivals were published on Sunday evening and by 7pm, 63,000 people had registered to take part, organiser Pieter Lubbers told television talk show Jinek on Monday. ‘We did not expect this,’ he said.

Two events are being held at the Biddinghuizen location where the massive Lowlands festival takes place on March 13 and 14. In total, 1,500 people can take part and difficult choices will now have to be made. The interest ‘shows that people really need to get out,’ Lubbers said.

On Monday, Lubbers’ company FieldLab entertainment organised the first mass event since the second lockdown – a conference for several hundred people who work in the events industry at the Beatrix Theater in Utrecht.

The conference, and the festivals, are being organised together with the government  to try to find out if large events can be held safely despite coronavirus.

Visitors had to have a negative coronavirus test to take part, and to disinfect their hands on arrival. Their temperatures were also taken and they were fitted with movement sensors, but they were not restricted from close contact with others.

They were, however, divided into separate groups with their own entrance and toilet facilities. Some had to wear a mask, others to sit behind a screen. In five days time, all will undergo a second coronavirus test.

‘It felt a bit strange when I arrived, but I soon got used to it,’ Sigrid Scheffer of Travelmarketing.nl told the NRC. ‘I think the old normal will be back as soon as everyone is vaccinated.’

Future

Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer told the Jinek talk show that the tests are the first of their kind in Europe. ‘By pressing ahead with them, the cabinet is showing that we really are thinking about the future,’ she said.

Other experiments are also on the cards, including a theatre show and sports events.

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