Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest today announced that they have received the go-ahead from local authorities to proceed with having a live audience at the event, despite a third wave of coronavirus infections raging in the country.
The approval comes with stringent requirements on the organisers—and show goers—to adhere to with capacity limits and approved event safety protocols. Audiences will be limited to 3,500 which equates to 20% of the Rotterdam Ahoy’s total capacity. They’ll also need to demonstrate a negative Covid-19 test result taken fewer than 24 hours prior to their attendance at the event.
Martin Österdahl, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, said in a statement:
‘We are happy that the Dutch authorities have enabled us to welcome audiences at the 3 live shows and 6 dress rehearsals in Rotterdam in the safest possible way given the current circumstances.
The world will be watching when we bring back the Eurovision Song Contest next month and, as millions enjoy the competition on TV and online, we are pleased that the hard work of the artists, delegations and crew will also be shared with a live audience in the Ahoy arena.
Welcoming audiences safely as part of the Fieldlab events programme will also help to create a great atmosphere for those taking part and watching at home. We don’t take lightly the responsibility of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest at this challenging time and safeguarding the health and safety of all those participating in, and attending the event remains our top priority.’
Officials were due to further ease general coronavirus restrictions on May 11, which would’ve included the re-opening of gyms, zoos, and amusement parks. The move was delayed by a week as COVID-19 infections remained high and hospitals continued to struggle with large numbers of coronavirus patients.
The Netherlands has not been a shining example of pandemic management, only implementing containment measures in September 2020. The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch intensive care wards has climbed in recent weeks to its highest in over a year as coronavirus infections swelled during the country’s third major peak.
Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest last year announced that there would be 4 potential scenarios in which the Contest could take place in 2021.
The first scenario—a “normal” Eurovision—was ruled out in February. Despite this confirmation that live audiences will be permitted to attend the live shows, organisers are not dismissing the unknown. ‘We understand that extra caveat, of course,’ executive producer Sietse Bakker said. ‘For that situation, we will of course keep the scenario without an audience at hand.’
The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will take place in Ahoy, Rotterdam in The Netherlands on 19, 21 and 23 May 2021. Eurofans in New Zealand can watch all three shows live on the official Eurovision YouTube channel, without commentary.