Some 500 people have gathered in a theater in the central Dutch city of Utrecht for the first in a series of test events aimed at charting a path toward a post-pandemic normality for large-scale gatherings.
Economic Affairs Minister Mona Keijzer says that, “returning to normal, whether it’s a conference with your colleagues, a sports match or a concert: everyone wants that.”
When that might be possible remains unclear. The Netherlands is in a tough lockdown until at least next month, with large-scale gatherings banned altogether, shops, bars, restaurants and museums closed and sports like professional soccer happening behind closed stadium doors.
Participants in Monday’s trial had to present a negative COVID-19 test result, had their temperatures taken on arrival and will have to undergo another test after attending the event.
The government says it will use data gathered at the event to help decide “how to work toward safe and responsible events” in the future.
The event came with Dutch infections on a gradual downward trend in recent weeks and vaccinations ramping up after a slow start that made the Netherlands become the last of the 27 European Union nations to begin its vaccination campaign.