If you hear a rumbling sound in the distance, know that every festival organizer in the world is shitting their pants in unison. Despite requiring proof of negative COVID-19 status at entry, the Verknipt music fest in the Netherlands has been linked to more than 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus.
As CNBC reports, in early July Verknipt hosted about 20,000 attendees in the Dutch town of Utrecht. Now, 1,050 of those people and counting have tested positive. This is especially discouraging because the electronic music event followed many expert guidelines. To start, the festival was held outdoors, where infections are generally much lower. Concert goers also needed to show a QR code confirming that they were either fully vaccinated, had recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, or had tested negative within the last 40 hours.
Lennart van Trigt, a spokesman for the Utrecht health board, has now suggested that the 40-hour period may be partly to blame. “We’ve found out now that this period is too long,” he said. “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. So in a period of 24 hours people can do less things and it’s safer.”
Noting that case count is “quite staggering,” van Trigt cautioned that some of the infections may have occurred in places other than festival grounds. “We cannot say that all these people 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,” he said. “So [the cases are] all linked to the festival but we can’t 100% say they were infected at the festival.”
Still, the Dutch health official said the town deserved some of the blame. “We were a bit too trigger happy,” van Trigt said. Criticism has also been directed at Utrecht mayor Sharon Dijksma, who took a selfie at the festival. She later apologized and said holding the event was an “error of judgment.”
Live music has returned worldwide, but the optimism of the spring has given way to a sobering summer. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the US, spurred on by the more infectious Delta variant. Last week, Foo Fighters had to reschedule a concert following a positive COVID test. But the news isn’t all bad — while cases are up 140% over the last two weeks, hospitalizations and deaths are only up about 33% over the same span. Traditionally, those numbers lag behind the overall case counts because it takes a while for the sickness to worsen. But this is still quite a gap, and could suggest that the vaccines are reducing the severity of symptoms in people who get exposed.
Editor’s Note: Concerts may be coming back, but it’s still important to keep you and your family safe — especially in close, indoor settings. Pick up one of our custom face masks from Consequence Shop.