Court: Most indoor events cannot exceed 75% capacity, must end by midnight
The event industry lost summary proceedings against the government about the latest coronavirus measures. The cabinet was within its rights to decide to allow only 75 percent of the possible number of visitors at events, and to make parties end at midnight. The choices are "imitable" and "not incomprehensible", the court in The Hague ruled.
The case was brought by, among others, Unmute Us, Apenkooi Events, ID&T and MOJO. The lawsuit was supported by the Alliance of Event Builders and the Association of Event Makers.
The industry said that events and concerts are not profitable due to capacity limitations and therefore cannot take place. This may be the measures' result at some events, but according to the judges that does not mean "that this is the intention of the restriction". The rule is intended to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
The event sector also argued that with a good door policy, the mandatory closing time at midnight will not contribute to the fight against the coronavirus. They also pointed out to the judge that organizing concerts requires a long preparation time and booking artists becomes more difficult if it is uncertain whether the concerts will take place.
More flexible rules apply to outdoor events. These are allowed to happen without a maximum number of visitors, as are indoor events with fixed seating, such as cabaret performances. The complainants felt that they were treated differently from other sectors in similar cases, but the court did not agree. "These are not equal cases and the defendant has also put forward a justification for the distinction."
Unmute Us is disappointed with the outcome and is thinking about its next steps. "We hoped for something different, but we will continue to fight for the preservation of our sector," said initiator Jasper Goossen. He called it "frustrating that the judge can apparently not let our investigation results outweigh arbitrary advice and decisions by the OMT and the cabinet". Festival organizer ID&T said: "The very last step would be that the 1.5 meters would be removed. Now we are the very last step. What still has to happen before our sector can fully open again, just like the rest of society?"
Reporting by ANP.