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Dutch government to let 3,500 fans watch Eurovision Song Contest

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image captionDutch singer Duncan Laurence triumphed at the last Eurovision in 2019

The Eurovision Song Contest has been given permission to let 3,500 fans watch in person as part of a trial by the Dutch government.

The annual musical extravaganza will be staged at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena in May, after being cancelled last year.

Under the plan, the venue would be half full and fans would need a negative Covid test before being allowed in.

Eurovision organisers welcomed the decision and said they would “consider the options now available”.

They said they would “announce more details in the coming weeks on how we can safely admit audiences to the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam should the situation allow”.

They added that the health and safety of attendees “remains our top priority” and that all artists and their delegations will follow a “strict protocol”.

The announcement follows a similar trial involving 1,500 fans at a music festival near Amsterdam in March, while 5,000 spectators were allowed to cheer on the Netherlands in a World Cup football qualifier on Saturday.

media captionCan music festivals be safely planned in the midst of Covid-related restrictions?

However, last week Prime Minister Mark Rutte said a nationwide curfew and other coronavirus restrictions would be extended by three weeks until late April.

The final arrangements for Eurovision will be confirmed at the end of the month and could still be scaled back if there is a new peak in infections.

Eurovision will take place from 18-22 May, and organisers have previously set out four possible scenarios, ranging from staging a full show as normal, to having pre-recorded performances and no live audience.

James Newman, who was due to represent the UK last year, will return for this year’s contest with a song called Embers.

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He will go up against singers from 38 other nations. However, foreign fans are unlikely to be able to attend due to international travel restrictions.

The Eurovision final will take place on the same night as a Glastonbury Festival live stream featuring stars like Coldplay, Haim and Jorja Smith, which was announced on Wednesday.

When Eurovision pointed out the clash on social media, the festival responded by saying they “fully advocate people watching both”.

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