If one thing is certain with COVID-19, it is uncertainty. And this doesn't really help with the organization of a festival like Pukkelpop. Ultimately, as an organization you have to make the decision to start the preparation of your event. Otherwise there will be no employees, no infrastructure and no artists. This was also the signal for the start of ticket sales. And that Pukkelpoppers were ready for an unforgettable edition, it became clear when 75% of the combi tickets went out in just a few hours.
"In recent months and weeks, we have been in daily consultation with the government and our medical partners. We have always listened carefully to all concerns, wishes and guidelines. Last Monday, the surprise was great when it became clear that the framework within which we could move as an organization became unworkable. "
The unexpected changes, announced after last Monday's consultation committee, had major consequences for the further organization of Pukkelpop. The festival organization now urgently asked the federal government for clarification. In anticipation of this, work on the site was temporarily suspended. Pukkelpop trusted that this clarity would be provided in the short term, and it was forthcoming.
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The government is in a difficult position, as is the Pukkelpop organisation. Originally, after the consultation committee of June 16, a negative PCR test that was not older than 72 hours was sufficient. Last Monday, more than a month after the original guidelines, this was suddenly reduced to 48 hours. Absolutely no small detail when you have to organize an event of the magnitude like Pukkelpop.
Also, since Monday, access to the festival could no longer be granted on the basis of a negative antigen test. Retesting via antigen is now suddenly possible again, but the initial validity period of 48 hours was reduced to 24 hours. We were initially gearing up for a capacity of up to 7000 tests per day at the festival site. The adjusted validity limit of a rapid antigen test and a PCR test respectively means that we should triple the capacity. In perspective, this is five times the maximum capacity of the country's largest test villages. We cannot guarantee the government that we can get this organized in safe conditions. This is simple math and a lot of common sense.
With all the additional testing requirements for a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, many of whom have not yet had the chance to be vaccinated, the daily testing of so many young people is completely unfeasible. These young people are the DNA of Pukkelpop, our core. Their happiness, but also their safety are one of our main concerns. Despite the great efforts of the Vaccination Taskforce and the numerous vaccination centers in and outside Limburg, they unfortunately had to conclude that they did not achieve the hoped-for percentage of vaccinated within this segment of the Pukkelpop audience. Almost 8 out of 10 of this target group will have to be tested.
The organization deeply regrets that this decision was made by the authorities only a month before the start of the festival, but this has always been a process of progressive insight. However, now that it appears that these new rules must be complied with in order to organize Pukkelpop, they can therefore only respect this decision and are forced to move the festival to next year.
After all, Pukkelpop has an important responsibility towards its audience and especially towards young people. As a festival organization they were also prepared to go very far. They were assisted and advised by an extensive team of experts throughout the entire process. Over the past few days, they have intensively researched all possible scenarios with them, but the conclusion has always remained the same: with these new measures it will not be possible to guarantee a safe and carefree Pukkelpop.
Pukkelpoppers who have bought a ticket will be contacted by e-mail before 8 August. They can choose between a refund of their ticket or an automatic transfer to the 2022 edition. Finally, the Pukkelpop organization would like to thank all Pukkelpoppers for their support in recent months. Also the various cabinets and governments and in particular the city of Hasselt. And the fantastic team that moved heaven and earth to make Pukkelpop 2021 a great party. Unfortunately it shouldn't have been.
Pukkelpop 2022 will take place from Thursday 18 August to Sunday 21 August.