Well, that was fast. Just two months after parent company AEG Presents announced a vaccine mandate for all of its 2022 events, Coachella said Tuesday that it is rescinding that measure, slightly.
“After seeing first hand the low transmission data and successful implementation of safety protocols at our other festivals this past month, we feel confident that we can update our health policy to allow for: Negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event, OR proof of full vaccination,” a statement posted to Coachella’s Instagram and website said Tuesday afternoon.
Coachella’s sister festival, country music-focused Stagecoach, has also adopted the same policy.
AEG, which also produces the Stagecoach country music festival, among other shows, announced in August that it would require proof of vaccination for all attendees and staff entering its venues, theaters or festivals beginning Oct. 1, 2021.
At the time, COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing in the U.S., primarily in states run by Republicans, and driven by the highly contagious Delta variant and a mainly-right wing movement opposed to vaccines. AEG cited those factors in its decision at the time.
“Our hope is that our pro-active stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated,” Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, said at the time. “We’ve already had to deliver bad news about JazzFest this week; I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”
However, AEG said at the time that it would reevaluate the situation based on case rates and other data. And since August, some limited good news has changed the conversation. First, states like California, which enacted effective and widespread safety measures, saw COVID-19 infections plummet — even as deaths and infections spiked in red states, causing hospital shortages and further needless loss of life. There is also growing evidence, researchers say, that the delta variant might have been the last big COVID wave.
And more recently, there’s strong evidence that people who experience breakthrough infections don’t pose a high transmission risk to other people.
Of course, it remains to be seen if a new deadly variant emerges — COVID-19 has already killed more than 700,000 Americans. But for now, antivaxxers will be allowed to take advantage of their vaccinated fellow citizens at Coachella. Rock on. (But also, please, just get vaccinated already.)