Thursday 18 August 2022

Sinterklaas, Carnaval and party congress hit by coronavirus wave

Sinterklaas arriving in Dordrecht in 2018. Photo: Depositphotos

Utrecht has cancelled its Sinterklaas arrival parade this weekend because of concern about the current wave of coronavirus infections.

Organisers said they had taken the decision on Tuesday because they could not guarantee the safety of spectators, while the city council said it was unable to arrange an alternative at such short notice.

‘The 20 people who have spent the whole year co-ordinating this event shed a few tears yesterday evening,’ committee member Bert Buizert told RTV Utrecht.

‘We considered having a very short parade, but in the end the question was whether we were willing and able to take the responsibility for bringing a big crowd of people together.’

Other towns including Naarden, Veenendaal and Roermond have scrapped their Sinterklaas parades because of the coronavirus situation, while in Amersfoort the traditional welcoming ceremony in the Eemhaven has been replaced by an open-top parade.

Political party D66 has cancelled its party congress this weekend in Den Bosch, when 3,000 delegates were expected to attend.

Party leader Sigrid Kaag said on Twitter it was ‘extremely sad’ that the first physical gathering for two years was unable to go ahead. ‘But the current coronavirus situation has brought us to this decision. Safety first for now!’

Carnaval in Brabant

However, Den Bosch, along with the other major Brabant towns Eindhoven, Tilburg and Breda, are going ahead with their Carnaval launch events on Thursday.

The four towns have introduced a ticketing system and required visitors to show QR codes on entry. ‘Of all the options available this is the safest way,’ a spokesman for Den Bosch council told NOS.

Boxmeer cancelled its event because of concerns that revellers from Limburg, where Carnaval has been scaled down, would swell its numbers.

In north and mid-Limburg large-scale events have been banned until November 15, as well as parties in town squares and festival tents, but smaller celebrations can go ahead as long as people are seated. Sinterklaas and Sint-Maarten parades are still permitted.

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