Football match experiment to determine whether events can take place again safely
When will events be able to resume? Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, this question has been on many people’s minds, and finally, there is good news on the horizon. If no stricter measures are added, the first pilot event will take place on January 22. This experiment will test how groups can come together again safely.
“We want to know in February what we can do this summer,” says Pieter Lubberts, program manager at the Fieldlab Events. He hopes the pilot event can determine the ideal package of measures, consisting of rapid tests and vaccines, in order to have a good year for the event industry in 2021.
1,500 lucky football fans
Fieldlab plans to have the first test take place during the match of Almere City FC against FC Dordrecht. The idea is to have 1,500 people in the stands, divided into different bubbles. Their behavior will be carefully monitored with the help of a computer chip. This provides insight into the number of encounters and their duration.
All supporters will undergo a PCR rapid test at the start and end of the match. “We do not exclude all risks 100 percent, that is not possible. We are aware of all risks and are reducing them,” says Lubberts.
Together with the government
According to Lubberts, Fieldlab is investigating all options for resuming events. “We do this together with the government. In this way, we hope to create a sensible package of measures in which, for example, the 1.5-meter line can be replaced.”
The Fieldlab experiment is based on eight building blocks: behavior, triage, tracking & tracing, rapid tests, air quality, dynamics, personal measures, surface hygiene, and vulnerable groups. Monitoring these building blocks during the pilot events must show what can and cannot be done in the long term.
If the experiment is positive, it means that events may take place this year according to the guidelines devised by Fieldlab. It is expected that the administration of rapid tests will undoubtedly be an essential part of this if the capacity allows it.
But what does having or not having a vaccine mean for one’s entry to an event? Can people without a vaccine be denied access to an event? Lubberts’s answer to this is that “it is a difficult discussion whether you should be allowed to go to an event earlier with a vaccination certificate. This decision is, therefore, up to the government.” If the government gives the green light for such a rule of access with a vaccine, Lubberts expects the event sector to respond accordingly.
With this pilot, Fieldlab also hopes to make it clear to consumers that events can be safely revisited in the future. Lubberts himself is “moderately positive” and has high hopes. “We really hope that we can start up again from February 1. Of course, not all at the same time and not yet with maximum capacity. But I do think that there will be festivals again this summer,” he says.
Whether this will prove itself to be true will depend on the results of the pilot. “It remains an amalgamation of hope and realism,” says Lubberts. For companies in the event sector, the experiment is, in any case, a small ray of hope on the horizon. We will be eagerly awaiting the results.