How has COVID-19 affected music festivals?
At the start of the pandemic, everything stopped and that means even paid events have been postponed until further notice. From music festivals like Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Ultra to performances by artists like My Chemical Romance, The Weeknd, and Taylor Swift, not everyone knew when they would be making their comeback, leading their longtime fans to fall in love with each other. ask when they would be allowed to use their tickets. The unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the varying regulations between different states and jurisdictions, have left the organizers of these popular events unsure of how to proceed and what they could possibly say to their people. participants.
Some music festivals only canceled at the last second, but tried to come back as soon as possible and continued to postpone events several times. Event hosts like Pasquale Rotella, creator of Insomniac, are an example of a host trying not to cancel their music festivals in an attempt to keep attendees happy. Unfortunately, events that usually draw large crowds have been officially canceled until the summer of 2021.
Now that the events are back, that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is no longer a problem or concern. Music festivals try to stay open by following the health regulations that their respective state has enforced. Some of the events that happened with the regulations were Hard Summer, Beyond Wonderland, and Nocturnal Wonderland.
Hard Summer was the first major event in Los Angeles after COVID-19, which reportedly had 160,000 attendees. Although the masks were recommended, they were not required, neither proof of vaccination nor a negative COVID-19 test. That changed for future Insomniac events, as Beyond and Nocturnal Wonderland required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, just like EDC and Escape.
However, even with evidence, how safe can these festivals really be? Music festivals have tried to stay on top of the health and safety of attendees by maintaining quality hygiene standards throughout the concert pitch and some events have even had vaccination tents for free vaccines. And, while vaccines can help slow the spread of COVID-19, it does not guarantee that those vaccinated will not get sick.
Likewise, while participants may provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, some are faked and often those who check are security guards who may not care enough about their jobs. Great confidence is placed in music festivals after quarantine. The general sanitation of the site is also not sufficiently maintained to consider it safe. The porta-a-potties are still not clean, and the soap and water run out before the night is over.
Unlike Insomniac, Ultra Music Festival, which was scheduled to take place in March in Miami, did not postpone its event and instead canceled it due to pandemic conditions. State and city officials said the event would put attendees’ health at risk due to the city’s current condition. Coachella, which was due to be held a month later in April, was also outright canceled due to California’s pandemic status at the time. Tomorrowland, which was due to be held in Belgium in July, was canceled due to the region’s local government refusal to allow it to host the event.
As festivals continue to be canceled or postponed, it also changes the plans of guests who would have liked to attend, whether they can still attend or not. The festival organizers have understood this and allow festival-goers to cancel their ticket or postpone it to a future year if the current event was only postponed. EDC, for example, is normally held in May and for the year 2021, has been postponed until the end of October, a week before Escape. If a guest had purchased a ticket early enough, they were allowed to transfer their ticket to EDC 2022 or cancel their ticket. However, transferring and canceling tickets only works for those who have had tickets for a long time. Those who buy tickets right before the event do not have this option.
Other events like AFROPUNK made masks mandatory at all times unless eating or drinking, and featured sanitation stations that regularly cleaned all frequently touched surfaces. The event also reduced the number of tickets available to reduce audience size, hoping this would reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.
Some events that took place at the start of the festival season that did not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test had more attendees reporting that they had contracted COVID-19 afterwards. Reports of positive COVID-19 tests have since declined.
While masks have remained mandatory to enter buildings in the city of LA, proof of vaccination will now also be required to enter bars. Music festivals will likely be forced to follow suit or do so voluntarily to protect their attendees. While the debate over whether or not the vaccine should be mandatory has been a hot topic in some counties, this will now be enforced for those going out, making it harder for people to enter some places. Yet again, not all establishments require their customers to show proof of vaccination, putting other customers at risk.
As music festivals continue to move forward, the way organizers deal with the pandemic and the safety of their attendees will progress and adapt as well. When the pandemic started, music festivals like Rolling Loud and Hard Summer did not have restrictions and regulations, but now they do; likewise, music festivals will continue to become more secure. However, now the risk management is on the people. Each person has their own responsibility as they have done throughout the pandemic to help slow the spread. Fake vaccination cards and negative COVID-19 tests only harm those in attendance and may harm the future of music festivals if deemed unsafe due to the continued spread of the virus.