Public health officials and others have raised concerns that such a large gathering, even outdoors, risks turning into a super-spreader event. Officials in the Netherlands were shocked after a much smaller music festival attended by 20,000 people over two days early this month led to nearly 1,000 cases of COVID-19, CNBC reported. That festival had similar safeguards to Lollapalooza’s.
Despite the recent spike in cases caused by the highly contagious delta variant, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said this week that she feels comfortable with Lollapalooza going ahead as planned because of the precautions organizers are taking, saying they have gone “above and beyond.” In addition to the entry requirements, organizers have looked at air ventilation for any indoor spaces, made sure backstage workers are vaccinated, will make masks available and will test ticket-takers.
“I would not feel comfortable moving ahead with Lollapalooza without COVID protocols in place,” Arwady said. “I don’t think I would feel comfortable if this were an indoor event, either. And I frankly don’t think I would feel comfortable if we were sitting in Louisiana right now, where cases are looking like they’re looking.”
Although the number of new daily cases in Chicago has climbed, from 104 a week ago to 176 as of Wednesday, the city hasn’t had the kind of surge many other parts of the country have experienced in recent weeks, and its daily average number of deaths and hospitalizations have dropped slightly.
“We’re taking COVID seriously,” Arwady said.
At the same time, “When you’re having this many folks who are coming through almost certainly there will be some cases. But I’m confident that the combination of what we know about limiting risk in outdoor settings, pairing that with vaccination and or testing and ideally mostly vaccination, which is what we expect, as well as all the other mitigation factors.
Lollapalooza officials did not immediately respond to a request for further information on its screening process, but on the festival’s website, they say that there will be people manning every entryway to search all bags that attendees are carrying as well as make sure nobody is allowed entry carrying anything other than small purses, totes and drawstring bags.