The Dutch Government has confirmed that the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam may proceed with a limited audience under strict conditions that ensure the health and safety of fans, crew, press and participants.
A maximum of 3,500 audience members will be allowed to enter the arena; approximately 20% of Rotterdam Ahoy’s capacity. Tickets are only available to those who successfully purchased tickets for the 2020 show - there will be no general public sale.
All audience members are expected to adhere to the strict health and safety protocols put in place by the Dutch Government through their Fieldlab events programme.
Martin Österdahl, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, welcomed the news:
'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.'
To help members of the public understand how tickets for the shows will go on sale, and who will be eligible, they are advised to carefully read the ticket FAQ page on Eurovision.tv.
'With 180 million viewers from over 45 countries, we will soon be in the international spotlight as a host country. We want to do this carefully and responsibly, so we are taking strict measures, with health and safety first,' explains Executive Producer Sietse Bakker.
An extensive COVID-19 protocol is already in place for crew, press and artists, which has been tested by international agency SGS, the world leader in inspection, control, analysis and certification.
'The numbers have been scaled down considerably. Delegations are much smaller and most journalists will follow the Eurovision Song Contest from home this year in our online press centre. By testing everyone in Rotterdam Ahoy every 48 hours and getting artists to move within our ‘Safe Harbour’ zones, we want to keep the coronavirus out as much as possible' Bakker emphasises.
Unlike previous editions of the Contest, there are no associated parties this year.
The Eurovision Song Contest is part of the Fieldlab Events research programme, under the supervision of principal investigator Professor Andreas Voss with research conducted by, among others, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas).
Fieldlab events are a joint initiative between the Government of the Netherlands and the Dutch events sector.
Strict rules apply to any member of the public attending the shows:
All visitors must be able to present a valid negative test certificate that is no older than 24 hours upon entry.
In addition, they are asked to undergo a post-test five days after the event. Testing is free via Testing For Access.
Before leaving home, visitors receive triage questions via a special app. Those who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are asked to stay at home.
There is only a seated audience, limiting the number of contact moments. There is no standing audience on the floor this year.
The public is asked to arrive and leave according to time slots.
Visitors must wear a face mask while 'in the loop' (on their way to their seat, when visiting the toilet, etc).
There are also a number of terms and conditions attached to the purchase of tickets which must be complied with.
Although tickets will go on resale shortly, show organisers expect that very few members of the public will travel from abroad, as Sietse Bakker explains:
'Currently, entry is only possible from EU/EEA countries and visitors from high-risk countries may be subject to quarantine obligations from 15 May. In most cases they also have to have themselves tested again before departure and in many countries there is a quarantine obligation upon return. We also call on people to explicitly adhere to the applicable travel advice of their own government.'
Of course, the nature of the pandemic is ever-changing, and organisers make it clear that the Dutch government may review the audience situation if needed to, as Sietse Bakker underlines:
'We understand that extra caveat, of course. For that situation, we will of course keep the scenario without an audience at hand. In addition, we remain in close contact with the municipality, the local health authority and the hospitals in the area.'
Tickets will be offered to all those who made purchases for the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest, and will go on sale Saturday 8 May. Previous ticket holders will receive instructions on Wednesday 5 May.
It is advised that all those considering purchasing a ticket read the ticket FAQ carefully and check whether they are eligible to attend the events.