Phish, Summerfest & Other Artists, Festivals And Venues Enact Vaccination Or Negative Test Policies 

Exelsior Pass
Photo by Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images
– Exelsior Pass
New York’s Exelsior Pass provides instant proof of a COVID vaccination via cell phone app. Vaccination or negative tests are increasing become required for entry to concerts and festivals.

As the concert business reawakens from a long hibernation, COVID-19 remains a safety concern with the Delta variant-propelled surge coinciding with the ramping up of indoor concerts as well as festivals. While some festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, have postponed to 2022, many others have enacted admission policies requiring attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent, negative COVID test.

Bonnaroo, Summerfest, Life Is Beautiful, Music Midtown and SoFar Sounds are among the festivals adapting to the changing health landscape by requiring vaccinations or negative COVID tests for attendees, with a flurry of announcements coming after Lollapalooza in Chicago. Lolla required attendees to either show proof they’ve been vaccianted for COVID-19 or tested negative within three days of the July 29-Aug. 1 event. 
Following lockdown and social distancing, images from Lollapalooza were seen as startling to some, with massive and largely unmasked crowds descending on the city’s Grant Park. But in a quarterly earnings call with investors the following week, Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino reported the audience was 90% vaccinated. 
And at press time, Chicago health officials announced that while 203 COVID cases were connected to the event, the number was not unexpected for such a large gathering and none resulted in hospitalization or death.

“Nothing unexpected here,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference. “No sign of a ‘superspreader event’. But clearly with hundreds of thousands of people attending Lollapalooza we would expect to see some cases.”

Meanwhile, many artists, concert promoters and venues were announcing their own policies ranging from sweeping to show-by-show, while some artists including Stevie Nicks, Limp Bizkit, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tesla have canceled some or all of their upcoming shows because of the latest surge of COVID.
Others have announced their own policies requiring the shot or test for attendees of their upcoming shows, including Dead & Company, Phish, Maroon 5, The Killers, Foo Fighters, Jason Isbell and Japanese Breakfast. 
Among concert promoters, AEG Presents announced Aug. 12 a policy requiring the vaccination or test of all event staff and concertgoers across its clubs, theaters and festivals no later than Oct. 1. The vaccination policy will be implemented as an open-ended one, with any changes or reversals informed by updates relating to infection rates, transmission data, variant developments, and local and federal regulations.
“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 Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and Chairman and CEO, AEG Presents. “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.”
While not a sweeping policy, Live Nation announced it is allowing its touring artists to make the call to make vaccinations and/or COVID tests mandatory at their shows. The world’s largest concert promoter also says it is requiring its employees and staff to be vaccinated.
“We are working to ensure we are reopening in the best way possible for staff, artists, crew, fans, and communities at large,” Rapino said in an email to employees. “Our teams have worked together to put new processes in place so that artists doing shows with Live Nation in the U.S. can require all attendees and staff to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test result for entry, where permitted by law.”
Some clubs and theaters have already made such policies public, such as City Winery venues, and vaccination policies appear to be becoming a wider trend. First Avenue in Minneapolis and I.M.P.-promoted venues in the Washington, D.C., area including The Anthem, 9:30 Club, Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lincoln Theatre, announced updated COVID requirements in July. Others are following similar policies imposed by states and municipalities from Los Angeles to Boulder, Colo. 
“We owe it to our employees, patrons, artists, and our community to use whatever safety tools we have, and at this point, our greatest measure is to ensure that all those in our venues either prove they’ve been fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID test that’s been taken within 72 hours of the event,” I.M.P. said in a statement. “If this is an issue for a ticket buyer, we’ll provide them with a refund or a voucher for an upcoming show. This is effective starting August 15th.
“This isn’t a political statement; it’s recognition that the science is showing vaccines protect from the worst potential outcomes of getting COVID.”