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Belgian music festivals offer to support vaccination campaign

Belgian music festivals have offered their services to the government in carrying out the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

In a letter to Federal Health Minister Franck Vandenbroucke, the Federation of Music Festivals of Wallonia-Brussels (FFMWB), said that organising, assembling and dismantling ad-hoc structures in collaboration with local authorities were among “the key skills that we mobilise year after year for mass events like our festivals.”

As the vaccines are expected to arrive in multi-dose vials to be administered all on the same day, Belgium health authorities are planning to vaccinate people in groups as much as possible. The task will pose several logistical challenges, including the creation of vaccination centres that festival organisers have offered to help with.

The FFMWB, which groups together international festivals like Dour, Couleur Café, Les Francofolies and Esperanzah! and draws thousands of ticket holders each year, also said that its extensive experience in managing large crowd flows made them an ideal partner.

FFMWB president Damien Dufrasne said: “We also have a large network of technicians, contractors and providers who have an array of skills and of material necessary to carry out this mission in the short term.

“Our sector has been at a standstill for several months and our collaborators are only asking to be able to contribute their creativity in the fight against the coronavirus.”

Dufrasne added that getting to support the nationwide event would be like a “fair return” to the industry, which suffered greatly amid a flood of cancellations, announcing losses of up to €1bn.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo last week said that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines was set to arrive in Belgium, one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, by the end of 2020, but said that priority groups would be first in line, warning that a mass general population vaccination campaign would only be carried out later in 2021.

Image: Eva Rinaldi / Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic / Edited for size