Dutch clubbers hit the dancefloor for study into easing lockdown


Dance music lovers in Amsterdam have been offered a short relief from lockdown, treated to their first live show in more than a year while serving as guinea pigs in a research project.

A total of 1,300 people were allowed on Saturday to attend a carefully orchestrated test event in the city’s biggest music hall, the ZiggoDome, which in normal times has a capacity of up to 17,000.

Dancing to tunes mixed by the Dutch DJs Sam Feldt, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano and others, they were followed in all their movements and contacts through a tag they were made to wear, as part of effort to examine how events may safely be opened up for the public again.

ZiggoDome opened its doors to small groups of people who tested negative 48 hours in advance.
ZiggoDome opened its doors to small groups of people who tested negative 48 hours in advance. Photograph: Eva Plevier/Reuters

Before his turn on the desks, Sunnery James told Reuters: “It’s unbelievable. I feel like a kid, I was jumping and screaming walking in. Hopefully we can show governments around the world that we can make this happen.”

All guests needed to test negative for coronavirus 48 hours before the event and were urged to take another test five days afterwards.

Inside, they were divided into six groups, all with different guidelines on physical distancing and face masks, and with varying degrees of freedom to move around.

Government advisers will use the data on the participants behaviour to help in decisions on possibly easing lockdown in coming months.

“We hope this can lead to a tailor-made reopening of venues,” said Tim Boersma, the organiser. “Measures are now generic, allowing for instance a maximum of 100 guests at any event if coronavirus infections drop to a certain level. We hope for more specific measures, such as allowing the ZiggoDome to open at half its capacity.”

A participant has their temperature checked before entering the ZiggoDome.
A participant has their temperature checked before entering the ZiggoDome. Photograph: Ferdy Damman/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The event was part of a series of government-backed tests that also include a business conference, two football matches and a comedy show – all of which have different rules for different groups, to see what works best.

The Dutch government last week gradually eased lockdown measures, as it allowed a limited reopening of non-essential stores and secondary schools, even though infections have been rising in recent weeks as more contagious variants of coronavirus take hold.

All bars and restaurants in the Netherlands have been closed since mid-October, while a nationwide 9pm-4:30am curfew has been in place for the past six weeks.



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