The Czech Republic has shut schools, bars and clubs. Hospitals in the French capital Paris could have 90% of their intensive care beds filled by the end of next week. And Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is “watching with great concern” as the pandemic continues across Europe. That’s after Germany reported more than 5,000 new cases of coronavirus for the first time since April.
Across the continent, countries once again find themselves battling a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases. That includes Eurovision 2021 host country The Netherlands. The city of Rotterdam has moved into a partial lockdown after the country’s recent measures failed to curb a local surge. Although the number of COVID-19 cases decreased throughout the summer, the Netherlands has recorded an increase over the past few weeks. As a result, the country remains one of the worst affected in Europe at the moment.
Following the surge, the Dutch government announced several new measures on 13 October. Cafés and restaurants must close and the sale and public possession of alcohol is banned after 8pm. In addition, theatres and music venues are not allowed to have an audience of more than thirty people.
Rotterdam enters partial lockdown amid surge in cases
Rotterdam and the broader Rotterdam-Rijnmond area has been one of the worst-hit areas of the Netherlands. As a result, officials moved the region of Rotterdam-Rijnmond into the “Zeer ernstig” (“Very alarming”) alert level. That’s the worst category in the Dutch tier system. Other large Dutch cities such as Utrecht, The Hague and Amsterdam were also moved into this category.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge suggested that the partial lockdown would probably last for four weeks. In two weeks time, the Dutch government plans to potentially revise and adjust the restrictions as necessary. This could mean that the country or parts of the country could potentially move to a total lockdown if the situation does not improve.
What does this mean for Eurovision 2021?
It’s obviously way too early to make any prediction or to forecast what this means for Eurovision 2021. The song contest is still more than half a year away and, as we’ve all seen, this pandemic changes week-to-week and day-by-day. This much is certain: The COVID-19 crisis is far from over.
Thankfully, the team behind Eurovision 2021 have been working with this in mind for months. Back in September, the organising committee presented four different scenarios for hosting the contest in Rotterdam, reminding us all of their commitment to make sure Eurovision happens one way or another.
Even so, it is understandable that many fans believe the likelihood of Scenario A — a full-scale Eurovision with audience as normal — has decreased in light of recent events.
Scenario A would, of course, become much more likely if a COVID-19 vaccine is in widespread use in early 2021. Vaccine development continues across the world — but having a vaccine by the spring is in no way guaranteed. In recent days two promising vaccine trials — including one run by pharma giant Johnson & Johnson — have been suspended following safety concerns.
During a press conference of 13 October, the Dutch Health Minister predicted that a vaccine would be rolled out at the earliest in Spring 2021, and only for the most vulnerable people in the first stages.
For detailed information about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and how to stay healthy, please visit The World Health Organisation web site.
Be sure to follow the latest developments in your area and adhere to local guidance from health officials and the government. If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, arrange a test if possible and restrict your movements.