26 September 2023
COVID-19Fact checkVerified

Verified: This video shows protestors dancing at an anti-COVID restrictions demonstration in Netherlands

The viral video shows people dancing to club music on the streets who were protesting against the social distancing restrictions and nightlife ban on Sept. 11.

screenshot of the tweet

A Twitter video posted on Sept. 12, which depicts an exuberant crowd dancing to music on the streets, said the gathering was a protest against anti-COVID restrictions.

It has more than 5,000 likes and 371,000 views as of this writing. Another tweet with the same video posted a week later has more than 23,000 likes and 956,000 views.

Some user comments expressed doubt about the validity of the claim that the video was an actual protest against COVID-19-related mandates given what looks like a celebration.

Others have raised questions about the meaning of the placard signs in Dutch that are seen in the video.

Annie Lab can confirm that the claim is authentic and the video shows a large-scale protest in the city of Tilburg on Sept. 11.

A campaign called Unmute Us organized the event calling for the resumption of festivals, clubs and large-scale events.

The placard seen in the video from Twitter (left) matches with the one from Unmute Us (right).

According to Sam Colombie, teaching staff at HKU Journalism, the Dutch phrase in the video, “Dit beleid klopt voor geen 1.5 meter” is a tongue-in-cheek slogan with a double meaning.

There is a Dutch expression, “that’s not even right for a single meter,” to indicate something “makes no sense.” The slogan says 1.5 meters, the social distancing measure they are protesting against, in order to form the phrase, “This policy makes no sense for 1.5 meters.”

The Dutch government banned festivals and nightclubs in early July, prompting the event-organizing industry coalition to demand reopening as COVID-19 cases appear to have been tapering off since the July spike.

On Sept. 11 Unmute Us organized a series of demonstrations across 10 cities with sizable turnouts — tens of thousands of people attended the processions, according to the organizer.

Annie Lab also found Unmute Us’s Instagram post on Sept. 7, calling people to join the protests across the Netherlands on Sept. 11. Some images on their IG account show people with the same signs we see in the viral video.

The original video in the tweet was credited to Corrado Francke, a reporter who was present at Tilburg, a city in a southern province of the Netherlands, and posted the video under his account on that day. [Additional information: updated on 5 Nov 2021] Francke confirmed with Annie Lab that he shot the video at the Unmute Us protest on Sept. 11.

Features of the buildings seen in the video (left) are identical to those found in a Google street view image (right).

We geolocated the street through Google Map and were able to pinpoint the exact location where the video was taken.

It was 47 Bisschop Zwijsenstraat, Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands. It is part of the protest route reported by Omroep Babant; features of the buildings seen in the video match with the Google street view image Annie Lab found.

On Sept. 25 social distancing rules in the Netherlands ended, according to media reports. Nightclubs and discos have been allowed to reopen although they need to close at midnight. Large-scale festivals have also been allowed to resume.