It’s the major Dutch arena that was to host Eurovision 2020. But the Covid-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the venue, as Rotterdam Ahoy management have announced they will be laying off 100 staff — 40% of its workforce.

Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant has reported on the arena’s massive staff reorganisation, which will result in Ahoy laying off 100 of its 270 permanent employees.

Ahoy’s director Jolanda Jansen was blunt when explaining the situation Ahoy faced. She said, “It is really a bloodbath. I think it’s dramatic. Our turnover was reduced from 45 million euros to 0. There is simply no work, the catering industry has come to a complete standstill. We cannot do otherwise.”

While Rotterdam Ahoy is scheduled to be the home of Eurovision 2021, things have otherwise been very quiet for the venue. It was forced to close its doors in March, when the Dutch government prohibited large-scale events in an efforts to slow the spread of Covid. As well as Eurovision 2020 being cancelled, Ahoy also lost hosting the Korfball League Finale, European Championship handball qualifications, as well as many other smaller events.

The newspaper notes that the Ahoy is only profitable when its halls are at least three-quarters occupied. But this simply hasn’t been possible in recent months. And as Jansen explained, despite investment in new facilities, “We still have a gapingly empty calendar.”

 A tough time for the events industry

Ahoy isn’t alone — other companies in the events industry are also in similar positions and are having to cut jobs.

Jansen has called on the Dutch government to extend its Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Employment (NOW) scheme, where the government subsidises wages for businesses who have seen at least a 20% decrease in turnover. However, the NOW scheme ends on 1 October.

But Ahoy is still planning for the future. The arena has recently commissioned Delft University of Technology to conduct a study looking at the airflow capability of the arena. Jansen says, “The preliminary results show that we can blow 100% outside air in, we have a lot of cubic meters of air that contribute to the safety of visitors in Ahoy.” Good airflow is considered an important factor in reducing the spread of the coronavirus indoors.

The shows go on

Despite the Covid restrictions, Ahoy hasn’t been totally dark over recent months. In March, the venue was transformed into a temporary health centre to ease demand on hospitals during the peak pandemic.

In July, the Dutch government eased Covid restrictions, allowing large events to take place again — with some precautions. Venues must pre-check attendees confirming they don’t have Covid symptoms, attendees must be seated and be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart. As well, attendees are not allowed to scream, shout or sing during the event.

Later that month, Ahoy hosted a special screening of the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The event featured a live performance of “Husavik” by Dutch Eurovision star Edsilia Rombley.

The venue has also been confirmed as hosting the Dutch Junior Eurovision national final in September. However, the arena audience will be limited to only family members of the competing acts.

Earlier this week, Eurovision 2021 Event Supervisor Nadja Burkhardt revealed that organisers are planning two scenarios for the next edition of the song contest. One is Eurovision in its usual format as an arena show with an audience, the other is a version aiming at containing spread of the virus.

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Ana
Ana
3 months ago

So.. Where are all those people that were screaming that the virus will be over by the summer and that the cancelletion of the 2020 contest was nonsense?

esc2021rotterdam
esc2021rotterdam
3 months ago

It really hurts to see people losing their job because of this horrible virus 🙁 I just hope it will be over soon (and not only becuase of eurovision). These stupid Chinese guys have destroyed the whole world and now they are doing a pool party in no other place than wuhan… They deserve to pay for this mess!

Last edited 3 months ago by esc2021rotterdam
Stevan
Stevan
3 months ago

damn you’re stupid

esc2021rotterdam
esc2021rotterdam
3 months ago
Reply to  Stevan

Why am I stupid? It’s a fact that a lot of people are losing their jobs because of the corona effects and that this whole pandemic is Chinas fault (less matter if it was because of someone has eaten a bat or that it was created in a lab). Imo the fact the they were doing a mass pool party in the wuhan (where the whole corona has started) while the whole world is still fighting the virus really feels for me like they are making a joke from the world (it’s okay if it doesn’t feel to you like… Read more »

Esc addict
Esc addict
3 months ago

Sad for the people who will lost their jobs….f…king covid! About the eurovision, Ahoy’s team seem reassuring about the airflow capacity of the arena, it can be a thing which will reassure the countries and delegations afraid to come to compete in the esc. Here we can have little clues about the 2nd scenario envisaged by the Ebu, people who want to be in the audience have to prove not being infected, will be obligatory seated in an limited audience then and each separated by 1.5 meters, maybe the families, couples and friends will be allowed to be together. But… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Esc addict