Tragos abandons Covid protest under threat of a sky-high fine

Tragos abandons Covid protest under threat of a sky-high fine

Association wanted to take part in national action ‘The Night Rises'

16-02-2022 · News

MAASTRICHT. Student association Tragos has cancelled the Multizalenfeest (‘multi-hall party’) which was to take place last Saturday evening and night. The municipal authorities informed them on Friday that they could expect a fine of ten thousand euro if they opened their doors. With the party, the association wanted to join ‘De Nacht staat op’ (‘The Night Rises’), a national protest action for the re-opening of nightlife. Maastricht University advised against it.

Saturday evening, 12 February, 20:00hrs: parked bicycles here and there around Tragos’s clubhouse on the Fort Willemweg. A total of around forty. Two hours later, when the official closing time for bars, pubs and restaurants – and hence also student associations - approaches, almost everyone has left. While the announced party by student association Tragos was to last until 5:00hrs the following morning. Tickets were no longer available; the event was sold out. The board expected roughly seven hundred visitors, including four hundred non-members.

The party was cancelled. Reason? Just like for other Maastricht businesses that wanted to go against the regulations – such as nightclub Complex, De Fessa Maastricht, and a number of pubs on the Markt – it was the announcement of a sky-high fine.

“A quick calculation showed that this would be financially unbearable,” says Tragos chairman Robert Roosen. “That was a hard blow. Students are really fed up with the lockdowns. With this party, we wanted to restore the atmosphere from before the pandemic. If the fine had been lower, we would most likely just have held the party.”

Although they certainly didn’t just join in this action to have a party, Roosen assures. “We support the protest fully. We also organise events that come under a night-time license, which have not been permitted these past two years.” For Tragos, it was reason enough to join forces with the other ‘rebelling’ nightspots. Despite the fact that the cabinet already announced that there would be considerable relaxation of the rules in the next two weeks. Roosen: “Even a closing time of 1:00hrs doesn’t give you much room. Besides, I don’t believe in those resolutions after two years of pandemic. Before you know it, there will be another lockdown.”

Birgitte Hendrickx, deputy director of Maastricht University’s Student Services Centre, was aware of Tragos’s plans. “The chairman had informed us that they were going to organise a party. We said: ‘Don’t do it, it is prohibited according to the current COVID-19 measures. We spoke to them about taking responsibility.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, an addendum has been added to the Introduction Period Code of Conduct, an official UM document. It states that the Executive Board “strongly recommends” that “when organising activities within the framework of the introduction period, but also afterwards, the most recent guidelines of the RIVM and the COVID-19 safety protocol of the UM should be followed.” Hendrickx: “For example, the maximum number of people in a building, as well as the hygiene measures. They have always correctly informed us regarding this. As far as that is concerned, they have always done their utmost.” The students have stacked up a lot of credit with Hendrickx lately. If the party had gone ahead, however, there would have been “a good talk”.

Even though the decision to cancel the party was a financial one, the code of conduct was at the back of their minds too, says Roosen. “We certainly did not want to create a hotbed. That is why our plans included checking QR codes at the door. But we felt it was very important to raise our voices with the protest action.”

Wendy Degens, Dennis Vaendel

Author: Redactie

Photo: Still Instagram

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: protest,tragos,covid-19,regulations,association

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