On the first weekend in July, around 20,000 fans of electronic dance music gathered in Utrecht, the Netherlands, for the Verknipt Festival. Despite being billed as a COVID-19 safe event and preventing entry for people who are neither fully vaccinated nor able to present a negative test, over 1,000 visitors to the festival have now contracted the virus.
“We can’t say that all of these people infected themselves at the festival,” said Lennart van Trigt, a spokesman for the Utrecht Health Department. “It could also be that they got infected while traveling to the festival or the night before going to the festival or at an after-party.” However, CNBC reports that the event is at the center of the outbreak, as confirmed by the Utrecht Regional Health Authority.
It is also possible that one in 20 concert-goers affected became infected with the virus shortly after receiving negative test results. They were allowed to be tested up to 40 hours before the event, which, according to van Trigt, was “too long”. “In 40 hours people can do a lot of things, like visiting friends or going to bars and clubs,” added van Trigt. The time window has since been reduced to 24 hours.
Van Tricht admits that the whole city was “a little too happy”.
Until last week, the Dutch health department was distributing Covid passports immediately after the vaccination, without waiting for the approximately two-week delay before protection was established. The Dutch Prime Minister and Minister of Health have since apologized for lifting the restrictions too early.