As we enter the second year of the pandemic, do you remember how it feels to attend a sold-out concert, hang out in a packed bar or watch a sports event in a massive arena?
Recently, 1,300 partygoers gathered at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome for a night of revelry, which was part of several experiments conducted by Fieldlab, an initiative set up by the Dutch government and the events industry, to take a look at how large groups can gather safely during the pandemic.
More than 100,000 applied for tickets to take part in the event but only 1,300 were granted access to the Ziggo Dome, which can accommodate 17,000 people, where the experiment was held. Almost a year ago, the Dutch government banned events with over 100 people.
Each participant had to show a negative test result prior to the event and their temperature was checked upon entry to the venue. They were tested again after five days.
The 1,300 participants were divided in to six different “bubbles.” Each bubble consisted of five groups of 250 people, and one group with only 50. As part of the experiment, each group had different set of rules that the participants should adhere to.
For example, some participants were required to wear a face mask, while others were encouraged to shout and cheer. There was also a bubble where partygoers had to maintain a 1.5-meter distance, and for another, one could party freely without a mask.
Each participant was equipped with a device to monitor how much contact they had with their fellow revelers. The event also monitored how much saliva people spat out as they sang, shouted and cheered, using colored liquid.
According to Fieldlab, one of the main focuses of the experiment is people’s behavior, and whether they followed the rules that were imposed in the bubble. This way the group will see whether, and in what way, major events can start again.
Experts at Fieldlab told EuroNews that the team will need several weeks to analyze the results of the experiment and discuss them with the Dutch authorities and "see how this will influence the roadmap the government has to ease the country out of lockdown restrictions.”
Similiar experiments by Fieldlab include an open-air festival (which tickets were sold-out in less than 24 hours), a business conference, two football matches and a comedy show.
The Netherlands recently eased its lockdown measures and allowed some non-essential businesses to open.