Unmute Us, the Dutch event industry campaign group behind Saturday’s mass protest march, has threatened the government with an even larger demonstration if its questions are left unanswered.
The march, which involved around 2,000 event organisers including Lowlands, Mysteryland and Paaspop, saw 70,000 people protest the ‘arbitrary, incomprehensible and unjust’ event restrictions in what was the largest demonstration in the Netherlands since 2004.
Now, the campaign group is threatening to announce “new and larger” demonstrations if the government doesn’t answer the eight questions presented in an open letter.
A number of the eight questions refer to findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands that show the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.
These pilots were organised by Fieldlab – an initiative of the Dutch government and several trade bodies.
The group asks why the government is ignoring the Fieldlab results while neighbouring country Belgium (which reportedly has the same percentage of vaccinated and infected) is using the report as a basis to organise large festivals.
“DO YOU REALISE THAT WITH THESE MEASURES YOU ARE RUINING THE INTERNATIONAL LEADING POSITION OF THE DUTCH EVENT INDUSTRY?”
“What is suddenly wrong with the Fieldlab results while you, through [deputy prime minister] Hugo De Jonge, fully embraced them during the press conference on 28 May?” the group asks.
The letter also asks why are festivals potentially only allowed to open from 20 September, a week before the end of the festival season.
“What arguments do you have for choosing this specific date and not 1 September, the date on which we wish to open?” the group questions. “Do you realise that with these measures you are ruining the international leading position of the Dutch event industry?”
The letter also highlights issues around the government’s coronavirus support for the sector (which is due to end soon), the perceived betrayal of young people (most of whom got vaccinated in order to go to an event, according to the group) and the cabinet’s inconsistent response to communicable diseases.
The group has given the cabinet until next weekend to break recess and answer the eight questions before it takes further action.
“As you have noticed, we are able to mobilise large-scale protests, which, despite their size, remain positive and peaceful. But don’t confuse our peaceableness with complacency. Our patience has run out,” the letter concludes.
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