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Thousands March In Dutch 'Unmute Us!' Protests
Christian Eede , August 23rd, 2021 21:34

Protest marches against the government's COVID-19 restrictions on festivals and clubs took place in six cities this past weekend

Around 70,000 people took to the streets of six cities in the Netherlands this past Saturday (August 23) as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions on the country's festival and nightlife scene.

The Unmute Us! protests took place in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht, with DJs playing out of soundsystems and moving vans along the march routes. Initially scheduled to run from 2pm until 5pm, most protests continued into the evening, with officials in Amsterdam calling for people to stop joining the route by mid-afternoon due to overcrowding fears.

The Unmute Us campaign was founded this summer in response to the Dutch government's decision to extend its closure of clubs and large-scale events, such as festivals, until October 31. Those heading the campaign and taking part in the protests marched with a demand that events instead be permitted without restrictions from September 1.

They say that events can be allowed to go ahead safely with testing measures in place, referring to festivals and club events similarly taking place right now in the UK and other parts of Europe. Campaigners have also referred to the government's decision to allow football stadia to open with crowds, arguing that the country's nightlife and festival scene has been unfairly singled out.

Under the Dutch government's current COVID-19 restrictions, only one-day events with a maximum of 750 visitors are permitted, and attendees require proof of vaccination, a recent negative test result or proof that they've recovered from the virus within the last six months.

Club events and festivals resumed at full capacity briefly in the Netherlands in late June, with proof of testing or vaccination in place as a requirement of entry. This lasted two weeks, however, with the government reintroducing restrictions as a result of a rise in cases of COVID-19.