In what will be welcome news to Belgium’s remaining late-summer festivals, the country’s federal government has announced that large-scale events of up to 75,000 people may take place from 13 August.
In a press conference on Friday (4 June) afternoon, Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed that mass events held in the open air, such as festivals like Pukkelpop (66,000-cap.), would be permitted from that date, providing attendees can present a ‘Covid safety ticket’ (proof of full vaccination) or a negative Covid-19 before entry.
The federal announcement follows the publication of the Flemish reopening roadmap – the so-called ‘Freedom Plan’, which advised that large events should be able to go ahead from the end of July – last month.
Speaking during the federal government’s press conference, Vandenbroucke suggested festival organisers could also offer their own on-site rapid antigen facilities, reports the Brussels Times.
In addition to Pukkelpop, large events which are now cleared to go ahead include another mega-festival, dance music event Tomorrowland (70,000-cap.), and the Formula 1 Belgian grand prix in Spa-Francorchamps. Both festivals have yet to announce a 2021 line-up.
“We look forward to organising a festival at the end of August”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Tomorrowland, which is scheduled for 27–29 August and 3–5 September, says: “We are very happy to receive this news, but we will wait for the conditions and rules before we will communicate about the organisation of the festival. We are very positive, and we look forward to organising a festival at the end of August.”
Pukkelpop (19–22 August) is aiming for “full capacity, 66,000 people a day,” organiser Chokri Mahassine tells radio station Studio Brussel, adding that the festival will be “without social distancing and without masks.” “You will be able to walk around and hug each other,” he says.
In a statement, Mahassine says the lifting of restrictions comes after months of lobbying by the industry. “These past few months our sector has made a deliberate choice to engage in constructive cooperation behind the scenes, and we would like to continue in the same vein, with expertise and equal input on all sides,” he comments.
“The safety of our visitors, artists, crew and local residents remains our top priority. Everything else will follow from there. Now it’s full speed ahead to a wonderful new edition of Pukkelpop.”
13 August ushers in the second-to-last stage of Belgium’s easing of lockdown, with the final restrictions planned to be lifted from 1 September.
As IQ reported last week, festival season is also on in Austria, with full-capacity events allowed to resume from 1 July.
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