Coachella promoter AEG sets mandatory vaccination policy for fans and staff
Concert giant AEG Presents, which runs marquee festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach along with local clubs like the Roxy and El Rey Theater, announced a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and fans at its future shows.
The policy, which fully kicks in on Oct. 1, will not allow for recent negative tests to substitute — only fully vaccinated ticketholders may attend its concerts and festivals, except in any states where such policies are banned. Effective immediately, and leading up to Oct. 1, proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the show date will suffice for entry.
“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” Jay Marciano, the COO of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, said in a statement on Thursday morning. “Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again.
“We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one,” Marciano continued. “We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”
While Coachella and Stagecoach have been kicked into 2022, AEG still has other festivals, like the hip-hop-centric Day N Vegas and Delaware’s Firefly, planned for in the coming weeks. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was canceled over Louisiana’s outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant, one of the worst in the nation.
Over the last two weeks, California’s COVID-19 cases are up 58%, and deaths are up 44%. Hospitalizations are up 98% , though those figures are still far below the peaks of winter and last summer. L.A. city officials are taking steps to implement a policy to require at least one vaccine dose to enter public indoor spaces. L.A. County officials are also considering similar measures. Many L.A. nightclubs have already begun setting their own requirements for vaccination and masking.
AEG’s main rival Live Nation has not yet announced a similar blanket policy, though several of its festivals, including BottleRock in Napa Valley and Beyond Wonderland in San Bernardino, have moved to a vaccination -or-recent-test requirement for fans, but artists have been empowered to make the call depending on their comfort level. Some artists like Dead & Company and Jason Isbell have adopted their own mask, test and vaccine requirements as part of their contracts.
New evidence from Chicago’s Lollapalooza might indicate that strict vaccine policies can be effective at preventing COVID-19 spread at music festivals. Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said on Thursday that the 385,000-capacity, three-day event yielded “no unexpected findings at this point and NO evidence at this point of ‘super-spreader’ event or substantial impact to Chicago’s COVID-19 epidemiology.”
She estimated that more than 90% of attendees were fully vaccinated, resulting in 203 cases associated with the festival (which had a mandatory vaccination-or-recent-test policy for entry). There have been no known hospitalizations or deaths reported as a result of COVID-19 cases associated with the festival.
While COO and general counsel of AEG Presents admitted in a statement that “certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact. The message we want to send is simple and clear: the only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.”
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