The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) together with its Dutch Members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS have published an extensive COVID-19 Health and Safety protocol for the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in May.
The thorough protocol details the measures all accredited individuals will have to comply with to attend the Contest in Rotterdam and match those for similar large events such as major sports competitions. It’s also fully compliant with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment guidelines.
“The spirit and tradition of the Eurovision Song Contest is about uniting Europe on one stage and we are very much still determined to achieve this in Rotterdam in May,” said Martin Österdahl, the Eurovision Song Contest’s Executive Supervisor.
“We are moving forward with our plans to produce a safe Eurovision Song Contest, with all artists performing live in Rotterdam. This protocol demonstrates our commitment to make this happen, with the health and safety of everyone attending, including crew and press, our top priority,” he added.
“In recent months, a lot of hard work has been done behind the scenes on this extensive Health and Safety protocol, in order to allow us to stage this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in a responsible manner,” added Sietse Bakker, Executive Producer Event of the 2021 Contest.
“With the help of extensive testing, mask wearing, hygiene measures, attention to ventilation and innovative measures, we will create an environment in which crew, artists and the press can work as safely as possible.”
The measures have been approved by the Safety Region (Veiligheidsregion Rotterdam-Rijnmond) the official authority reviewing and approving health and safety plans for events; and validated by SGS, an international agency specializing in the review of such plans.
The protocol can be adjusted at any time should new developments demand and begins before artists and delegations even arrive in the host city.
All those attending the Eurovision Song Contest from abroad are recommended to go into quarantine for 5 days before departure to the Netherlands and they must test negative for COVID-19 at most 72 hours before they fly.
Once in the Netherlands, delegations have to stay in their hotel, except when they travel to Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena for rehearsals, the live shows and other programme related activities.
Everyone working in the Ahoy Arena, including crew, artists and press, will be tested regularly in a special facility next to the arena.
“Our goal is clear: to prevent transmission of the virus during the event. If someone tests positive, our isolation protocol comes into effect, we support the relevant authorities with track and trace research and we take additional measures where necessary. If a participant is unable to perform live as a result, the backup recording will be used,” said Sietse Bakker.
The testing strategy is currently being developed, based on the guidelines of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands.
The full protocol can be read here.
In February it was announced that a "normal" Eurovision Song Contest could not take place under the current circumstances and that organizers were “determined yet optimistic” that the 65th edition of the world’s largest live music event could take place in a B scenario with strict health and safety measures and social distancing.
The decision was recently reaffirmed by the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, the event’s governing body, and the EBU’s Executive Board.
Should circumstances change in the coming weeks the event can still be scaled down.
To make the event viable in a B scenario, the number of people in each delegation has been massively scaled back from previous editions. The number of journalists who can attend the event will also be capped at 500 with a further 1000 able to cover the show in a new online press centre.
A decision on whether an audience can be present at the shows and on what public activities can take place around the event in Rotterdam will be decided at a later time.
More details on the contingency planning for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 can be found here.
41 public service broadcasters will submit entries for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. 2 Semi-Finals will be staged on Tuesday 18 and Thursday 20 May at the Rotterdam Ahoy Arena in the Netherlands. The Grand Final, featuring 26 songs, will be held on Saturday 22 May at 21.00 CEST.