A test event organised on Saturday 3rd July at La Madeleine, an event hall in Brussels, has been named a ‘medical success’. Following the party there were no Covid-19 infections amongst the 250 attendees, who all tested negative after the event.
1. ‘Dance Again’ event
The ‘Dance Again’ event was a test party event to look at whether, medically speaking, it is sensible to allow the resumption of nightlife during the Coivid-19 pandemic, provided attendees undergo testing beforehand. The event was organised by La Madeleine in collaboration with the City of Brussels, Brussels Expo and Brussels Major Events, the CHU Saint Pierre, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Brussels By Night federation. Only those who could provide evidence of a recent rapid negative antigen test could attend, and were allowed to party without a face mask or social distancing. The swabs from their tests were also sent to the LHUB laboratory (Brussels University Hospital Laboratory) for a comparative PCR test.
All participants also had to take a PCR test after the event, and according to the office of the Delphine Houba, alderman for Culture of the City of Brussels, the results confirmed that no one became infected at the party. Regarding the pre-event tests, around ten people, including one artist, were not permitted into the party as a result of testing positive. However, only one person’s PCR test result was positive, meaning all other cases were “false positives”. Houba’s office also states that the complete conclusions regarding the health and logistical management of the event are still being analysed.
3. Support for reopening nightlife
Yves Coppieters, an epidemiologist at the University of Brussels (ULB), has shown his support for this event and recently called on the government to completely reopen nightlife, following the example of the Netherlands where nightlife has restarted with the help of compulsory testing before events. “Young people are hungry for nightlife. However, the necessary protocols need to be worked out, such as, for example, the compulsory display of a coronavirus certificate,” he told La Dernière Heure. “If measures are lifted elsewhere, surely that means this is not unreasonable. It seems as if politicians are afraid to give the young people their freedom back,” he added. Coppieters also argued that the same principle for travel should be implemented, with entry based on whether people have a coronavirus certificate, with proof of full vaccination, a recent negative PCR test or proof of a recent infection, indicating immunisation.
4. Doubts about reopening
However, looking at the Netherlands as an example also shows the concerns for reopening the nightlife sector. In Enschede, almost 200 out of 600 people who went to a nightclub event tested positive for Covid-19, despite all participants having had to present a negative test or vaccination certificate upon entry. People were only allowed to enter with a QR code ticket, leading to speculations that attendees exchanged QR codes with others to get in to the event.