Photo Credit: Back To Live

The ‘Back to Live’ events showcased how events with an increased visitor capacity can take place safely and responsibly during the pandemic. The Ziggo Dome, the largest music arena in the Dutch capital, was opened to 1,300 people for four hours on Saturday. They were encouraged to dance to sets by Dutch DJs Sam Feldt, Lady Bee and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano.

Those participating were traced in all their movements and contacts through a tag, as part of an effort to examine how events may safely be opened up for the public again. They had been divided into five “bubbles” of 250 people, plus one of 50, each of which had to comply with different rules.

Some were constrained in their movement on the dancefloor, while others were variously asked to wear a mask at all times or only when in motion. One group was given a fluorescent drink and encouraged to sing and scream to the music in order to examine how much saliva was released at moments of peak revelry.

Government advisers will use the data they collect on the behaviour recorded to help make decisions on possibly easing the restrictions on nightlife in the coming months. One of the observations, organisers said, was that even those asked to keep their masks on soon dispensed with them as they got into the flow of the music.

Photo Credit: Back To Live

Everyone attending had to have received a negative test for coronavirus 48 hours before the event. Twelve applicants had received a positive test result before the event and were barred from taking part. Those who did attend were asked to take another test five days afterwards.

The gig was part of a series of government-backed research events that have also included a business conference of 500 people, a performance in front of a similar number of people by cabaret artist Guido Weijers, and a football match involving 1,200 cheering supporters. Two open-air festivals in Biddinghuizen have also been planned, as well as a pop concert.

It is more than a year since gatherings of more than 100 people were banned in the Netherlands. All bars and restaurants in the country have been closed since mid-October. A nationwide 9pm to 4.30am curfew has been in place for the past six weeks. The event at the Ziggo Dome ran from 3pm to 7pm in order to be compliant.

Photo Credit: Back To Live


Bubble 1

People were told to wear a mask all the time. They could decide for themselves where to stand but had to ensure that there were no more than three people in a square metre of space.

Bubble 2

People wore a mask all the time and were told to keep a distance of 1.5 metres.

Bubble 3

People wore a mouth mask only when in motion and had to stand on designated spots.

Bubble 4

People wore masks all the time. There were seats available.

Bubble 5

People only masks only when on the move. There were standing and seating areas. The participants were put in their dancing spot by the organisers with two chairs spacing people apart.

Bubble 6

No masks. People were allowed to stand or sit where and when they pleased.

Find out more about the campaign and the Netherland’s restart of live events at