Dutch government extends ban on non-seated events until September
At a press conference on August 2, Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended the ban on one-day events and festivals without set seating until September 1. Outdoor events with a maximum of 750 attendees will be allowed to go ahead, so long as certain rules are in place.
Coronavirus restrictions for events and festivals in the Netherlands
Last month, Rutte and Health Minister Hugo De Jonge announced stricter rules for events and festivals in the Netherlands, imposing a ban on all multi-day events and all non-seated events. This ban was initially expected to remain in place until August 13, but in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and the number of patients being treated in Dutch hospitals, the government had opted to extend the ban until (at least) September 1.
According to the new rules, from August 14, certain small-scale events will be able to go ahead; non-seated ticketed outdoor events with a maximum of 750 people in attendance will be permitted, so long as all visitors present either proof of vaccination, proof of a recent negative test, or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19. By using the CoronaCheck system, event organisers will not be required to adhere to / enforce the 1,5-metre distance rule. Organisers are required to register the contact details of all visitors, and all attendees are urgently advised to get tested on the fifth day after the event.
Outdoor events with fixed seating can also go ahead with a maximum of 750 people in attendance, or two-thirds of the venue’s maximum capacity if this figure exceeds 750. Indoor events with fixed seating can also go ahead with two-thirds of the venue’s maximum capacity in attendance. For these events, requesting proof of vaccination, proof of a recent negative test, or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19 ensures visitors don’t have to maintain 1,5-metre distance.
Event organisers frustrated by strict capacity restrictions
Festival organisers were left disappointed by the government’s latest press conference, explaining that the restrictions were too strict to allow for any festivals to go ahead. “This is a very big blow for all of us,” explained Mo Sahib, organiser of the LatinVillage festival. “We can't do anything with those numbers. 750 people are just the people who are present from the organisation, such as catering staff and technical staff."
The ID&T Group - an organisation that represents 90 festivals and live music venues in the Netherlands - has asked to review the advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), postponing their summary proceedings against the government for the time being. “There is a lack of a sustainable policy with regard to events,” the organisation argues. “Why are we allowed to go on holiday en masse and not to a larger festival?”
The new restrictions will also affect the number of fans allowed at sporting events, impacting a number of football matches in August. The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has voiced its disappointment, arguing that infections are declining and hospital admissions are stabilising. “This restrictive measure is therefore purely for the stage," the KNVB wrote in a statement with the Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Division.
Financial support from the Dutch government
While the above restrictions were set based on the most recent advice from the OMT, the actual advice suggested introducing even stricter rules for events. Some measures suggested by the OMT, such as discouraging the public from singing out loud, requiring all performers to maintain 1,5-metre distance, and requesting an antigen test of no more than 24 hours old from all visitors, were deemed unrealistic and impracticable.
For one-day events planned for the second half of August which are now no longer able to go ahead, organisers will be able to make use of the event guarantee scheme or additional event allowance provided by the Dutch government. The scheme covers 100 percent of the costs incurred for cancelled events.