After producing more than a dozen festivals over the course of the past few months, executives with AEG Presents have decided to reverse course and allow unvaccinated fans to attend next year’s Coachella — if they can show they have tested negative for COVID-19 72 hours prior to the event.
“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,” the festival announced in an Instagram stories post Tuesday (Oct. 12).
Stagecoach, the country music festival that takes place in the same location the weekend after Coachella, also announced it would allow unvaccinated fans to attend with a negative test.
In August, officials with Goldenvoice’s parent company AEG Presents announced that starting Oct. 1, fans attending events produced by the company would need to show proof of full vaccination to gain entry to events like Coachella and Stagecoach.
“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” said AEG Presents CEO Jay Marciano at the time. “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. 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.”
In explaining the surprise reversal, a spokesperson for Goldenvoice tells Billboard that the company had “planned to update the policy if COVID-19 conditions improved, which we said when we announced the policy.”
Jose Arballo, the public health spokesperson in California’s Riverside County, where Coachella takes place, tells Billboard that the county follows state guidelines, which require attendees of large events to either show proof of a vaccine or a negative test result prior to entry. Arballo says event organizers can lawfully require vaccines only for entry if they want to, “as long as the entry requirements weren’t less strict than state guidelines.”
Coachella is currently slated to run April 15–17 and April 22–24, 2022 with headliners Travis Scott and Rage Against the Machine (a third headliner has yet to be announced). The festival was postponed a total of three times due to the pandemic.