The Dutch organisers of Eurovision 2021 have long hoped to allow an audience for this year’s shows in Rotterdam. And there might be a possibility after the Dutch caretaker government agreed to potentially make Eurovision 2021 another Fieldlab test event to find out whether large-scale events can be held safely in the age of COVID-19.
Speaking in the print version of De Telegraaf, Minister of Media Arie Slob said that the government would allow all nine shows with an audience of up to 3,500 spectators per show as long as case numbers are low enough. This final point is important. His comments are not a guarantee of an audience, but an indication they would like to allow for this if it is considered safe at the time.
How can Eurovision 2021 have an audience of 3,500 people?
Over the past few months, Fieldlab has been researching the spread of the coronavirus at large events like concerts, football matches and festivals.
Although no event was fully immune to COVID-19, the events have helped policy-makers and event-organisers assess how the virus spreads through an audience and which precautionary measures are helpful. At various events attendees have been given sensors so that officials could trace their interactions and movements within the audience. Similar experiments have been conducted in Germany and Spain in recent months.
Under the current Dutch COVID-19 restrictions, it’s unlikely that Eurovision 2021 would be allowed to have an audience. However, by potentially turning Eurovision 2021 into a Fieldlab event, an audience becomes a possibility once more.
Likely precautions include pre-event rapid testing and post-event monitoring. According to RTL Nieuws, only Dutch fans would be allowed in the audience under the current framework.
The caretaker government has stressed that the execution of the Fieldlab test event depends on the local coronavirus situation. Currently, the Netherlands is battling a third wave of the virus. The acting government will not take a decision until late April.
The EBU is positive about the developments
The EBU has responded to the announcement that, if circumstances allow, audiences will be permitted to attend the contest in May.
In a press release, Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl states:
“We welcome this decision by the Dutch government and the possibility that we can invite fans to join us as we bring the Eurovision Song Contest back in May,”
“We will consider the options now available and announce more details in the coming weeks on how we can safely admit audiences to the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam should the situation allow. The health and safety of all those attending the event remains our top priority.”
The EBU in general added to that:
“As previously announced, all delegations, artists and production crew will be following a strict protocol and would not come in contact with potential members of the audience under any circumstances.”
What do you think about this plan? Do you think Eurovision 2021 will end up with having an audience after all? Let us know in the comments down below!
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