1000’s march to name for the Dutch music festivals to return | leisure

AMSTERDAM (AP) – Dutch music fans have been banned from going to major music festivals for months due to coronavirus restrictions. On Saturday the festivals came to them.

Hundreds of artists and festival organizers marched through six Dutch cities on Saturday to protest what they believed to be unfair restrictions that have forced the cancellation of summer music festivals and other events.

Thousands of people took part in one of the “Unmute Us” marches in Amsterdam, walking and dancing behind a convoy of trucks with DJs and sound systems pumping out music.

Leonie der Verkleij, a freelancer who works in the hospitality industry at events, was among the demonstrators in Amsterdam.

“The festival industry feels like an unwanted child,” she said. “It feels like all sectors are important except us.”

The Dutch government has banned large events such as festivals until at least 19 September for fear of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. One-day events with a maximum of 750 visitors are allowed for people with a COVID-19 app who are known to have been vaccinated, recently tested negative, or have recovered from a case in the past six months.

The organizers of Saturday’s protest want the ban to be lifted on September 1st. They point to overseas events and the return of crowds to soccer stadiums – with a proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a negative test – as evidence that people can gather in large numbers without rising numbers of infections.

Jasper Goossen of Apenkooi Events, which organizes dance festivals, said hundreds of festivals had been canceled due to the pandemic, crippling an industry of 100,000 people.

“There are so many passionate people who work in this industry and they all have a hard time. We want to move forward, not stand still, ”he said.

Dutch organizers point out festivals in other countries that have not developed into superspread events, such as the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago in the summer. Authorities in Chicago said they linked 203 cases of COVID-19 to the four-day event, which was attended by 385,000 people.

The demonstrators carried self-made banners with the words “Music = Medicine” and “Don’t Cancel Culture”.

Festivals are a traditional part of the European summer, but many have been canceled or postponed this year. In England, many of the biggest events like Glastonbury in the south west of England and BST Hyde Park in London have been canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

But the lifting of all remaining restrictions on social contact in England on July 19 made at least something possible. However, before these restrictions were lifted, the organizers of the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, considered Europe’s largest street festival, decided to hold the two-day event at the end of August due to the “ongoing uncertainty and risk” of COVID-19.

In France, festivals are allowed for people with a virus passport that shows they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative, or have recently recovered from the virus. But many organizers have reduced the maximum number of people per day. The largest festival in the country, the Vieilles Charrues, sets a limit of 5,000 spectators per day.

The moving 7-day average of the daily new cases in the Netherlands has decreased slightly in the last two weeks and increased from 16.45 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants on August 6 to 15.05 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants on August 20. Almost 18,000 people have died in the Netherlands from COVID-19.

Melvin van Pelt, a DJ and producer who works under the name Tahko, said he worked at state testing and vaccination centers to pay his rent and agreed to many coronavirus measures, but he was fed up with the festival ban.

“I’ve had enough of it. I’m upset. I don’t feel represented by my own government anymore,” he said.


Associated press writers Pan Pylas in London and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this.


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