The Hague forbids weekend protest festival against Covid restrictions

Johan Remkes speaking at a VVD event
Johan Remkes speaking at a VVD eventPhoto: Maarten/Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Johan Remkes of The Hague banned a so-called protest festival against the measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the city this Sunday. According to Remkes, The Hague does not have a space big enough to accommodate the expected number of attendees safely under the current restrictions. And the fact that the protest is in the form of a festival, without the organizers adhering to the requirements of a festival, could lead to dangerous situations.

'Virus Waanzin', the movement behind this protest, want social distancing and other measures in place against the spread of Covid-19 to be lifted. They planned to issue their demands in a demonstration in the form of a festival, including performances by DJs, on the Malieveld on Sunday. The organization expected at least 10 thousand attendees. 

"The right to demonstrate is a great thing, but it is not unlimited," said Remkes, acting mayor of The Hague and chairman of the local security region. "The Malieveld is not elastic. In the municipality of The Hague, there is no public space that can safely accommodate the amount of people gathered by the organization, so I forbid the gathering."

Remkes also pointed out that the organizers applied to hold a demonstration, not a festival. "By filing in the program as a festival, without adhering to the applicable deadlines and complying with the requirements that go with it, such as the use of security, access controls on prohibited substances and a sound safety plan, and by doing so to actually organize an event that is prohibited under the Emergency Ordinance, creates an illegal and dangerous situation. That is irresponsible."

According to the acting mayor, the city always tries to make agreements with demonstration organizers to find a way in which they can properly convey their message - whatever that message may be - while also protecting safety and public health, and managed to do so multiple times over the past weeks. "It is a pity that this is not possible now, but it is also the responsibility of the administration to prevent dangerous situations and sometimes to also protect residents and visitors against themselves and others.'