With the right measures, events can accommodate 50 to 100 percent of the normal number of visitors this summer. This was stated by professor of infection prevention Andreas Voss at a press conference of Fieldlabs Events in The Hague. "Our conclusion is that many more people could be present than has been stated in the government roadmap so far."
Fieldlab Events is a collaboration between various Dutch organizations in the event industry and four ministries. In recent months, 24 test events were held with 60,000 visitors, including an international match of the Dutch national team, a festival in Biddinghuizen and various meetings in theaters, pop venues and conference centers. The Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam was also a Fieldlab.
During the experiments, the public had to be tested before and afterwards. Not everyone turned out to do the test afterwards. During the events, the public did not have to adhere to the 1.5 meter measure, the visitors were divided over different bubbles. The research was aimed, among other things, at identifying where visitors mainly encounter each other and where the risks lie.
According to Voss, the results show that more people can attend events than has been allowed by the government until now. "At the highest risk level, that could be up to 50 percent of the capacity. If the epidemic level is worrisome, it could even go up to 100 percent. If good, specific measures are taken."
It is not surprising that Fieldlabs Events concludes that events are safe to organize. The question the organization set to work on was not whether the events can be kept safe, but above all how. The project was set up by the events industry, but in addition to Voss, other scientists also participated, including from the University of Twente.
Testing, ventilation, visitor flows
The specific measures that the researchers refer to include access tests, the correct amount of ventilation at indoor events and the flow of visitors at outdoor events. For example, visitors to a skybox at a football match appeared to talk to different people for longer than the fans in a 'normal' public section.
Visitors in an experiment were also given a drink with fluorescent drops in it. Then they had to sing along to different songs. "It showed that the large drops from the sky quickly fall to the ground. They don't get the back of the person in front of you," said Ruud Verdaasdonk of the University of Twente. Incidentally, a limited number of people were present at that test.
Wearing face masks is one measure that can only help at some events. Many visitors immediately took off their mouth masks during the tests at festivals.