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FieldLab results suggest seated indoor events are safe

Indoor seated events are safe according to “encouraging” results from the first two Back to Live pilots by Fieldlab, an initiative set up by the Dutch government and the entertainment industry.

The Dutch organisation has concluded that events can take place at half capacity without social distancing in place.

FieldLab stressed that visitors must be tested beforehand and wear a mask, and venues must have good ventilation.

The Back to Live programme is a joint initiative between the Event Platform, the Alliance of Event Builders and ClickNL. It is working to provide a plan for the safe return of events with an increased visitor capacity, through collaboration with scientists and with the support of the four Dutch ministries of Economic Affairs, Education, Culture & Science, Justice & Security and Public Health, Welfare & Sport.

The recent results will be presented to the cabinet, with FieldLab stating it is certain that during the Eurovision Song Contest in mid-May, 3,500 people can attend each night.

The results are based on two pilot events that took place at the Beatrix Theater in Utrecht in February: a business conference and a theatre performance.

Fans in attendance were required to present a negative COVID-19 test result and were also asked to have themselves tested afterwards. According to NOS, just over 80 per cent of all visitors took the second test.

During the event, the attendees were divided into bubbles that had varying COVID-19 measures in place. According to the results reported by NOS, 98.4 per cent of attendees adhered to the instructions, while 80 per cent of visitors downloaded the CoronaMelder app in advance for track and trace purposes.

In addition, it was noted that the number of contacts within 1.5 metres lasting longer than 15 minutes was limited, especially during the theatre pilot.

FieldLab has since organised six other pilot events, including outdoor festivals and football matches. During the two 1,500-capacity festivals, 16 people may have been infected with COVID-19, though it is not clear whether they became infected during the festival.

“It is very nice that we can work towards our goal: normal capacity in all the halls again on 1 July,” said Jolanda Jansen of Fieldlab Events in a response. “If the vaccination coverage goes up and the virus is further reduced, the ward capacity can also be increased.”