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Thousands to attend Eurovision song contest in the Netherlands in so-called ‘field lab’ Covid trial

Thousands to attend Eurovision song contest in the Netherlands in so-called ‘field lab’ Covid trial
The Dutch government wants to run a ‘practical test’ to investigate how to hold large events in a ‘safe and responsible manner’ by allowing 3,500 people to attend the Eurovision in May, the contest organizers have confirmed. 

The event – set to take place in the Dutch city of Rotterdam on May 18-22 – will see up to 3,500 spectators present at each of its nine shows (six rehearsals, two semifinals and the final). All members of the audience will have to present a negative test result for Coronavirus. International fans might be disappointed, however, as only people living in the Netherlands will be allowed in.

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The organizers welcomed the government’s decision, saying that the “health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority”.

The Dutch government has been conducting a range of tests to establish whether large-scale events can be held safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous similar experiments took place in March. The results of those trials are yet to be published. 

The Netherlands is currently under a nationwide lockdown that was recently extended until April 20. After-school care and universities are closed and serving customers at bars and restaurants is prohibited. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last week that the country was at a crossroads, with either stricter measures or a lifting of restrictions imminent. 

The Eurovision organizers said they would confirm the final arrangements for the annual song contest at the end of April and the event could still be scaled back if infections peak again.

The Netherlands has registered a total of nearly 1.3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 16,500 deaths. The number of infections currently stands at 63% of the peak reported in December and is rising. More than 7,000 new cases are reported every day. 

The Dutch government expects to vaccinate “a large number of people” by early June, which would “probably allow a significant easing of restrictions”

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