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Dance event in Amsterdam tests safety of reopening to crowds

Some 1,300 music fans gathered in Amsterdam on Saturday for a trial dance event as part of a government-led COVID-19 social experiment.

The event at the 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome was one in a series of experiments conducted by Fieldlab, an initiative set up by the Dutch government and the entertainment industry to discover how large crowds can gather safely.

More than 100,000 people entered to win tickets to the event, with all successful entrants required to have a negative COVID-19 test in advance.

Attendees will also be required to get another test five days after the event.

The 1,300 fans were split into five groups of around 250 people, each with a different set of rules to follow. Each attendee was equipped with sensors to monitor how much contact they had with others.

Some groups were required to wear face masks, while others were encouraged to shout and cheer as much as possible.

The trial event will help determine ways events like the dance festival might safely reopen to crowds, with the main focus being on people’s behaviour and whether they followed the rules.

Pieter Lubberts, of Fieldlab Events, said: “We are actually testing here if the people adhere to the measures that we requested from them.”

Fieldlab has also conducted other experiments involving a business conference, a football game and a theatre show. A small number of attendees tested positive for COVID-19 since, but there is no evidence that they contracted the virus at the events.

The trial follows similar trials that have taken place in Germany and Spain. In December, a COVID-19 experiment held in Barcelona concluded that the use of antigen tests is an efficient strategy to enable the holding of concerts as none of the nearly 500 attendees at the event were infected.