Saturday 31 July 2021

Fieldlab says events can be organised safely despite coronavirus

The Fieldlab festival experiment. Photo: Lauren Comiteau

Events with large numbers of visitors can be held safely even if the coronavirus infection rates are still high, the organisers of the Fieldlab experiments said on Thursday.

The organisation, a joint project between the events industry and three government ministries, bases its claim on the results of 24 events held in recent weeks and attended by some 60,000 people, all of whom tested negative for coronavirus in advance.

The events included a conference, outdoor sports events and a small-scale festival as well as the Eurovision Song Festival.

The official risk level in the Netherlands is currently ‘extremely serious’, the highest level in the four band risk rating and it would not be responsible to organize festivals at the moment, Fieldlab said. However, seated events with a maximum 50% occupancy can go ahead safely.

‘The practicals have shown that visitors are prepared to cooperate by having a fast test ahead of the event,’ a spokesman told broadcaster NOS. ‘If the infrastructure for testing is well down and the cabinet supports our conclusions, there is nothing in the way of a fine summer for the events industry.’

It is up to the cabinet to decide what to do with the Fieldlab recommendations, and ministers are also likely to ask the Outbreak Management Team for its advice. The OMT previously criticised the events, saying there were too many and that the 40 hour deadline for the negative coronavirus test should be reduced to 24.

The experiments have been dismissed as unscientific in some quarters. In addition, it is impossible to say how many people are diagnosed with coronavirus after attending an event, because only around 80% of visitors have a second test.

DutchNews.nl has contacted the organisation to find out what criteria the organisation used to determine the risk level of different events and visitor numbers.

The government is not expected to give the green light for the fourth step in its rule relaxation plan until the end of June and has so far said nothing about abandoning masks and social distancing.

From June 5, theatres and cinemas will be allowed to reopen for a limited number of visitors with strict social distancing in place.

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