Live blog (Updated: 09-07-2021): How events in the Netherlands are possible again with the CoronaCheck apps
7 May, 2021 - 12 min. read
This blog was written in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
In this live blog, organisers can read up on everything that we know so far about the CoronaCheck apps that are being developed by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The idea behind these apps is to make organising responsible events in the upcoming steps of the government's opening plan a possibility: initially in for trial events, but after some time also for regular events. For this reason, these apps are now extremely relevant.
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Update 6 (09/07/2021):
On Friday evening, 9 July, a press conference was held announcing new measures that will remain in force until 13 August. A number of the previously announced concessions will no longer be valid as of Saturday 10 July. Clubs and discotheques will have to close again and the catering industry and festivals will have stricter rules. These are the new measures:
Hotel and catering industry:
For the hospitality industry, the system of Testing for Entry has been temporarily paused. Guests must be seated at a fixed spot at 1.5 metres and from midnight everything must be closed. In addition, entertainment such as live performances and loud music will be banned. In practice, this means that clubs and discotheques must close for the time being.
Multi-day events lasting more than 24 hours are no longer allowed. In addition, everyone must have a fixed seat and must maintain 1.5 meters distance, given they aren’t in the possession of a valid vaccination certificate, recovery certificate or negative test result. Testing for Entry test results will also have a shorter shelf life: a negative test result will only be valid for 24 hours.
Update 5 (23/06/2021):
As of Thursday, June 24, you can create your vaccination certificate in the CoronaCheck app. Vaccinated people can log in using their DigiD and retrieve their vaccination details. This development means fully vaccinated people can start going to events, clubs and other activities where social distancing is difficult to enforce - without needing to be tested in advance. People who are not fully vaccinated will still need to provide a negative test certificate before entering an event.
Up to now, the CoronaCheck app was able to show negative test certificates using a QR code that can be scanned at the entrance of an event. From 1 July onwards, you will also be able to create a QR code with a 'recovery certificate': a statement that the visitor has recently had the coronavirus and therefore has antibodies that provide them with sufficient immunity to the virus.
The government advises people not to try to log in and load the vaccination certificate all at once. The app only supports a maximum of 25 logins per second and therefore a total of 90,000 logins per hour. So if people log in en masse at the entrance to events and festivals, this could lead to problems. People can generate their proof of entry tickets at home and save them in the app. This proof will then remain visible in the app, even if a user doesn’t have internet access. Therefore, vaccinated people will only need to retrieve their vaccination details once.
Update 4 (11/06/2021):
Great news! Secretary of State Mona Keijzer has just announced that from 30 June onwards, events can take place at full capacity. Visitors won’t need to maintain a 1.5-metre distance from one another, but will still need to show an admission ticket with a negative test result or a vaccination certificate before gaining entrance. They can take a covid-19 test up to 40 hours before the event.
Update 3 (26/05/2021):
After an earlier decision by the Second Chamber about the mandatory tests, the First Chamber has now also agreed to the temporary laws. After a long debate, the Cabinet's plans received the support of a majority in the First Chamber. As a result, the laws will go into force somewhere at the beginning of June.
However before the law could be passed, GroenLinks did set a number of conditions: for example, the test law must be separated from the Covid-19 law and the other measures must not apply in places where it is possible to maintain sufficient distance.
GroenLinks also asked to allow self-testing in areas where there is no test site nearby. Earlier, the cabinet already said it wanted to investigate whether self-testing could be used as valid proof of testing. However, it is yet to be seen whether these self-tests are as reliable as the official tests via Testing for Entry.
Update 2 (12/05/2021):
Yesterday, the House of Representatives unanimously decided that the individual contribution of €7.50 will definitely be dropped. Previously, Minister De Jonge wanted to keep the option of an individual contribution in reserve, but the tests - which are compulsory - will remain free.
Furthermore, the House of Representatives has decided that a vaccination certificate and a recovery certificate should also count as valid proof of admission to events and cultural activities. It was also made clear that people suffering from disabilities or illnesses, and unable to take a test, are to be excluded from the testing requirement.
Finally, the Parliament is going to investigate whether self-tests can also be used as valid tests and thereby grant admission to events. For that to be the case, however, it will have to be proven that these self-tests have the same degree of reliability as the tests booked through Testing for Entry.
Update 1 (07/05/2021):
Yesterday, a debate in the House of Representatives showed that there is a majority against the individual contribution of €7.50 per test taken. The general sentiment is that these tests should be free. Yet Minister De Jonge wants to keep the option of individual contributions in reserve as he may want to use it once test certificates are only required for major events.
Furthermore, it now appears that the budget made for the temporary law - some 1.1 billion euros - was probably far too generous. The cost is more likely to be between the region of 500 million and 700 million euros, about half of the original budget.
Next week, the law will be voted on in the House of Representatives, after which the First Chamber still needs to give its approval. The law is expected to take effect somewhere at the beginning of June.
What are the CoronaCheck apps?
The CoronaCheck app and CoronaCheck Scanner app are being designed to allow visitors with a recent negative test result to access events, museums and other cultural activities. For the time being, this only applies to rapid tests carried out by affiliated test sites and doesn’t yet include the vaccination certificate. By using these apps, the government hopes to safely reopen these sectors. With all of this in mind, it seems there won’t be any need for testing on location.
When will the CoronaCheck apps go live?
The CoronaCheck app is already working and live, but is currently only being used for pre-announced Testing for Entry pilots; including, for example, the well-known 'Fieldlabs'. On 7 July, Step 5 (the final step in the government's opening plan before the government measures can be dropped altogether) is supposed to go into effect, however, the roadmap is already being delayed due to the current pressure on hospitals. In that final stage (step 5), it would presumably only be necessary to provide proof of testing for major events. For the time being, it’s difficult to say with certainty when the CoronaCheck app will be put to use on a large scale.
How the two apps differ from each other
CoronaCheck and Testing for Entry
When visitors want to go to events in the future, they’ll first need to make a test appointment at one of the affiliated test lanes through the [Testing for Entry] website (https://www.testenvoortoegang.org). Within the CoronaCheck app, visitors can indicate that they’d like to be tested and will be linked to the Testing for Entry website. The Testing for Entry website allows visitors to see times and test locations where they can get tested and receive their results in time. As an organiser, you don’t have to do anything to facilitate this, your visitors will take care of this themselves.
After the test, the results are sent to the visitors. If the test result is negative, the visitors will also receive a collection code which they can use to generate a QR code within the CoronaCheck app. The QR code is then scanned at the entrance of an event, sports match or cultural institution. If the test result is positive, the visitors won’t receive a collection code and won’t be able to generate a QR code within the CoronaCheck app.
For the time being, the affiliated test lanes will only use rapid tests. It’s important to know that it isn’t yet possible to generate a GGD test certificate within the CoronaCheck app, although they hope to include this in the future.
Source: CoronaCheck app VWS
A negative test certificate is valid for 40 hours and must be valid at the time of arrival at the event. Negative test certificates are not valid for one event, but for the entire 40 hour period. If you have another event later on the same day, the QR code can be scanned again.
At the event’s entrance, visitors open their CoronaCheck app and show their test certificate in the form of a QR code. Then you, the organiser, scan the QR code on their device using the CoronaCheck Scanner app. If the screen turns green, you’re dealing with a valid test certificate. If the screen turns red, the QR code is invalid.
In addition to scanning a valid QR code, you’ll also need to verify that the test certificate actually belongs to the visitor. To make this possible, you’ll be shown four boxes once you’ve scanned the certificate. These boxes contain - in order - the initials of the visitor’s first and last name as well as the date and month they were born. As an organiser, you’ll have to check that this information matches the details on the visitor's ID.
Source: CoronaCheck Scanner-app VWS
Eventix is in contact with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport about implementing the scanning functionality of the CoronaCheck app in the Eventix Scanner app. With an integration, it would be easy to switch between the two scanners.
However, access to the documentation necessary to enable this implementation will remain closed for the time being and organisers must assume that they will need to scan twice (and with two different apps) at the entrance to their event. In order to keep the flow of visitors optimal, we advise organisers to make use of two consecutive scan points. A scan point for the test certificates and a subsequent scan point for the tickets.
What is the cost of testing?
The test appointments made through Testing for Entry will initially be free of charge. After a certain period, visitors may be expected to contribute a small fee per test. Presumably, this will be an amount of about €7.50 per test.
Privacy and the CoronaCheck apps
No personal data is stored in the CoronaCheck app. This means that the data collected in the app cannot be traced back to one person. The only data that is processed is the following:
- The result of the COVID-19 test
- The time of the test
- The first letter of the first name
- The first letter of the last name
- The date of birth
- An IP address
Once a test certificate loses its validity, the test certificate and the created QR code are automatically deleted. The first letter of the first and last name, as well as the date of birth, are also automatically deleted. After 7 days the IP address is also deleted.
At present, there is no legal basis for the testing requirement inherent to the compulsory use of the CoronaCheck apps to gain access to events. Today, the government is pushing through the 'Temporary law on test certificates covid-19'-bill as an amendment to the 'Public Health Act' so that it will indeed be possible to make test certificates compulsory as a condition for participation in cultural activities, events, the hospitality industry and sports.
Vaccination certificates will come in the form of the European Digital Green Certificate; a free vaccination certificate for all EU citizens. For Dutch citizens, the Digital Green Certificate will be integrated as part of the CoronaCheck app. The deadline for this is 1 July due to the summer holidays. It is expected that after this period you will be able to go to an event without a test certificate if you have been vaccinated.
What measures must visitors comply with at an event?
The basic rules laid out by the government - such as maintaining 1.5 metres distance - will continue to apply at events where all visitors are in possession of a test certificate. The CoronaCheck app aims to reduce the risks of spreading, but the basic rules also contribute to this. In addition, access to events may be halted at any time if the number of infections is high enough to make it irresponsible to allow events to continue.