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Dutch music festival linked to over 1,000 new coronavirus cases

Utrecht's Verknipt festival was attended by 20,000 people over two days earlier this month

An outdoor music festival that took place in the Netherlands earlier in July has shocked Government officials after 1,000 coronavirus infections were linked to the event despite it requiring a “test for entry".

The Verknipt festival took place across two days in Utrecht and was attended by around 20,000 people. Everyone who attended the event had to show a QR code that demonstrated that they were vaccinated, had recently recovered from COVID-19, or had a negative COVID-19 test.

The festival was one of the first mass gatherings to take place in the Netherlands after the government relaxed most capacity restrictions on clubs and festivals in late June. All organisers of such events were required to take care in ensuring those who attended were vaccinated, or met the other testing requirements.

Verknipt's organisers have said they did carefully plan the event, and stick to these requirements, but 1,050 people who attended have now tested positive for the virus, as per Utrecht's regional health board.

Lennart van Trigt, a spokesman for the board, pointed out that it's impossible to say that all of those who were infected, were infected at the festival itself. "it could also be possible that they’ve been infected while travelling to the festival or in the evening before going to the festival or having an after-party," van Trigt said. "So they’re [the cases] all linked to the festival but we can’t 100% say they were infected at the festival."

The board was expecting to track down more cases that were linked with the festival in the coming days. 

This event, as well as many others that took place in the Netherlands earlier in July, has highlighted problems with the country's "test for entry" process, which required attendees of events to do a test for COVID-19 up to 40 hours before the event. Many Government critics and health officials have since said that was too long before.

"We’ve found out now that this period is too long," van Trigt said, echoing this belief. "We should have had a 24 hour [period], that would be a lot better because in 40 hours people can do a lot of things like visiting friends and going to bars and clubs."

Clubs and festivals in the Netherlands have now once again been halted until mid-August due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. Seated events have been allowed to continue, provided organisers adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. The U-turn decision by the country's Government forced the cancellation of a number of events, including Dekmantel festival.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed the decision to reintroduce some measures on events in a press conference two weeks after nightlife was originally allowed to reopen. You can find the latest guidelines here.

Meanwhile, in England, with clubs and festivals now fully returned from COVID-19 measures, the UK Government is encouraging promoters and venue owners to make use of the NHS COVID Pass to help manage cases of the virus.