Netherlands

Why did Pukkelpop have to press the pause button and what are the options?

Can Pukkelpop continue? A decision by the Consultation Committee to shorten the validity of PCR tests has serious consequences, according to the organizers. Preparations and ticket sales are currently on hold.

“You will be allowed to walk around and kiss each other”: organizer Chokri Mahassine announced two months ago that Pukkelpop would take place this year. The festival normally takes place from 19 to 22 August in Kiewit (Hasselt). 65,000 visitors a day can gather on the grounds to enjoy bands such as Balthazar or De Jeugd van Nowadays.

But now the organization is pretty much in the thick of it. On Thursday, organizer Patrick Breugelmans confirmed that the preparatory work had been halted for two days. It also turned out that ticket sales had been taken offline. The reason for the stop lies with a decision by the Consultation Committee on Monday, Pukkelpop communicated afterwards.

PCR test

At Pukkelpop it would therefore be the intention to dance unbridled. The mouth mask obligation would not be enforced and social distancing rules are being overhauled. A festival as before, so. The condition for this is that festival-goers should be able to present a Covid Safe Ticket. This allows them to prove that they have been fully vaccinated or that they have built up immunity because they have had the virus once or that they have tested negative.

Because Pukkelpop is a festival that mainly attracts young people, many visitors have not yet been vaccinated and therefore have to rely on a PCR test. But on Monday, the Consultation Committee knocked on the door for how long those PCR tests may apply to the corona pass. Those tests were originally supposed to be valid for 72 hours, but that was reduced to 48 hours.

Anyone who has such a test taken also has to wait a day for the result. If a festival-goer then puts his test certificate in his backpack and goes to the festival, that PCR test is still valid for one more day. The next day, that person actually needs a new test proof. Many visitors to the festival have a combi ticket and can therefore stay there for several days.

Statue Mine Dalemans

An option would then be to provide antigen tests, sources in the Wetstraat say. They are valid for 24 hours. The organization of the festival could ensure that young people can make do with the faster tests on site. But then tens of thousands of tests are really needed. Logistically, that is already difficult to organize.

The tightening of the conditions surrounding the Covid Safe Ticket cannot be seen separately from the situation in the Netherlands. The rules were much more flexible with our northern neighbors than with us: events could take place if visitors could submit a PCR test of up to 72 hours. But due to a peak in infections, the Netherlands has tightened its approach again. There will be a line through multi-day events for the time being.

By setting the deadline at 72 hours, there is actually a lot of time after the test to still contract the virus, which means that visitors would walk into a festival infected, according to political sources. It was not the intention of the Consultation Committee to target Pukkelpop, although there was a realization that the organization would now become a lot more difficult. The corona commissioner and Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) in particular would have put pressure to shorten the term to 48 hours.

null Image Mine Dalemans
Statue Mine Dalemans

Pukkelpop now explicitly addresses the federal government in its communication and asks for “clarity”. But it sounds to Minister Vandenbroucke that no consultation is planned with the organizers of the festival. “We informed the organizers on Tuesday evening about the concrete implementation of the Covid Safe Ticket as decided on Monday by the Consultation Committee,” said his spokesperson. “We are only carrying out what was jointly decided by all the governments of the country on Monday.”

Tickets

Meanwhile, the question arises: what about the tickets bought for the festival? Ticket sales had not yet started last year when the festival was postponed, but now tickets have already gone on sale. 85 percent of the combi tickets had already been sold at the beginning of this month.

The general terms and conditions state that Pukkelpop will refund the ticket price in the event of cancellation. Although Pukkelpop also writes that this repayment is not currently mandatory. Due to the corona pandemic, events are also allowed to issue a voucher equal to the amount of the ticket. Pukkelpop declined to comment on the tickets.

Pukkelpop isn’t the only multi-day festival taking place this summer either. The metal festival Alcatraz also hopes to welcome a few tens of thousands of visitors in August.

Bruno Schaubroek, spokesperson for the events sector therefore also asks for clarity. “What has now been said about those PCR tests should be included in a ministerial decision as soon as possible,” he says. “Then we can see what’s in there, so we know exactly what we need to comply with.”

The GEMS committee, which includes virologists such as Marc Van Ranst (KU Leuven), had no advice on reducing the time limit for PCR tests. “But our position on these major events has been known for some time and has never changed,” says Van Ranst. “We don’t believe you can safely let something like this go through at the moment.”

Why did Pukkelpop have to press the pause button and what are the options?
Source link Why did Pukkelpop have to press the pause button and what are the options?

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