The Netherlands is easing restrictions on concert venues. That’s the big takeaway for Eurovision fans following the last COVID-19-related press conference before the summer holidays. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that earlier restrictions on concert venues will be loosened, but social distancing rules will remain in place until further notice. As you’d expect, Eurovision 2021 organisers were watching closely. Executive Producer Sietse Bakker tweeted that “careful optimism about the year ahead is appropriate.”
In their fight against COVID-19, the Dutch government put the Netherlands in lockdown back in March. This led to the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, which was supposed to take place in May.
These efforts have helped shield The Netherlands and protect its health care system. Thankfully, the number of hospitalisations due to coronavirus has been on a downward trend over the past two months. That means the Dutch government, like many others across Europe, can now ease restrictions across several sectors, and that includes culture.
In short, this means that the Eurovision 2021 venue Ahoy is allowed to open from July 1.
Events allowed again in the Netherlands as of 1 July, as long as the 1.5-meter distance is respected! Careful optimism about the year ahead is appropriate ?? #OpenUp
— Sietse Bakker (@SietseBakker) June 24, 2020
How is Ahoy Rotterdam allowed to re-open?
Concert venues such as Ahoy in Rotterdam, which was specially mentioned by Mark Rutte, are allowed to host events again. Nevertheless, they must adhere to strict rules and restrictions. Here are the most important ones.
- All attendees must do a pre-check confirming that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. This is a questionnaire, not an actual test for coronavirus.
- All attendees have to be seated and remain seated for the duration of the event.
- A distance of 1.5 metres is required between each attendee. This is also the case for families and people living in a common household.
- Attendees are not allowed to scream, shout or sing loudly during the event. This rule is also in force in football stadiums and places of worship. Only those on stage are allowed to perform, and they must maintain distance from each other. Advice is forthcoming on specific rules for choirs and singing ensembles.
Naturally, it’s impossible to know whether these rules will still be in place by the time of Eurovision 2021. The pandemic is unpredictable. However, both Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge underlined that they do not expect to return to a stricter lockdown as long as people adhere to the rules. At the same time, they did say that they encourage people to follow social distancing guidelines until a vaccination or treatment against COVID-19 is in use.
Eurovision will come back better prepared
Meanwhile, the preparations for Eurovision 2021 are in full swing. The date of the Grand Final has been set for 22 May 2021.
Former Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand said the EBU is better prepared to organise next year’s contest. As part of that, the EBU relaxed the rule that previously said all the vocals have be performed live. Instead, the delegations may opt to use pre-recorded backing vocals. It’s thought this will help them save money and reduce the size of their delegations in Rotterdam.
In Hilversum, the production for Eurovision 2021 is also going ahead. The Dutch broadcaster recently appointed Astrid Dutrénit as the new Executive Producer, alongside re-appointed executive producer Sietse Bakker.