‘Unmute us’: walkers demand return of Dutch music festivals

People demonstrate in the streets of Dutch cities to demand an end to the government’s ban on major music festivals

Hundreds of artists and festival organizers staged marches in six Dutch cities on Saturday protesting what they see as unfair restrictions that have forced summer music festivals and other events to be canceled .

Thousands of people attended one of the ‘Unmute Us’ marches in Amsterdam, walking and dancing behind a convoy of trucks carrying DJs and sound systems playing music.

Leonie der Verkleij, a freelance writer who works in reception services at events, was among the protesters in Amsterdam.

“The festival industry feels like an unwanted child,” she said. “We get the impression that all sectors are important except ours.”

The municipality of Amsterdam called in the middle of the afternoon for no one to join the march because there were too many people.

The Dutch government has banned large-scale events such as festivals until at least September 19, over fears over the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. One-day events with a maximum of 750 visitors are allowed for people with a COVID-19 app showing they have been vaccinated, recently tested negative, or have recovered from one case in the six last months.

Organizers of Saturday’s protest want the ban lifted on September 1. They point to events abroad and the return of crowds to football stadiums – with proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test – as proof that people can congregate in large numbers without a large number of people. infections on the rise.

Jasper Goossen of Apenkooi Events, which organizes dance festivals, said hundreds of festivals have been canceled due to the pandemic, crippling an industry that employs 100,000 people.

“There are so many passionate people working in this industry and they are all going through a tough time. We want to move forward, not stand still, ”he said.

Dutch organizers mention festivals in other countries that have not turned into mainstream events, like the summer Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Chicago officials said they linked 203 cases of COVID-19 to the four-day event that drew 385,000 people.

The marchers carried home-made banners that read “Music = Medicine” and “Don’t Cancel Culture”.

Festivals are a traditional feature of the European summer, but many have been canceled or postponed this year. In England, many of the biggest events, such as Glastonbury in southwest England and BST Hyde Park in London, have been canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

But the lifting of all remaining restrictions on social contact in England on July 19 at least allowed some to take place. However, the organizers of the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, which is billed as Europe’s largest street fair, decided before the restrictions were lifted to cancel the two-day event at the end of August in due to the “continuing uncertainty and risk” posed by COVID-19.

In France, festivals are allowed for people with a virus pass showing they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently cured of the virus. Yet many organizers have reduced the maximum number of people per day. The country’s largest festival, the Vieilles Charrues, has set a limit of 5,000 spectators per day.

The 7-day moving average of daily new cases in the Netherlands has declined slightly over the past two weeks, from 16.45 new cases per 100,000 people on August 6 to 15.05 new cases per 100,000 people on August 20. August. Almost 18,000 people have died in the Netherlands from COVID-19.

Melvin van Pelt, a DJ and producer who works as Tahko, said he had worked at government testing and vaccination centers to help pay his rent and agreed to many measures against coronavirus, but he’s had enough of the festival ban.

“I’m fed up. I’m angry. I no longer feel represented by my own government,” he said.

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Associated Press editors Pan Pylas in London and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.

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Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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Janice K. Shaw

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