Coachella, Stagecoach Festivals Loosen Vaccination Requirements To Allow Negative COVID Tests

Festivalgoers during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2019 in Indio, California.
Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella
– Festivalgoers during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2019 in Indio, California.
The festival plans to be back in 2022.

Those holding tickets for Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach, California’s Country Festival, won’t be required to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 when they gather in the Southern California desert in April and May 2022, a reversal from a policy announced in August by producer Goldenvoice.

Instead, the new policy permits festivalgoers entry to Coachella and Stagecoach grounds with a negative COVID test within 72 hours of entry or proof of vaccination, according to statements posted on both event websites Oct. 12. 
Goldenvoice updated the previous policy after considering data from festivals that have taken place over the summer, according to its post.
“After seeing first-hand the low transmission data and successful implementation of safety protocols at our festivals recently, alongside the rising vaccination rate of eligible Americans, we feel confident that we can safely update our policy for Coachella that allows for negative covid test taken within 72 hours of the event OR proof of full vaccination” the statement reads.
The desert festivals’ health and safety policies are “regularly updated in consideration for our fans, artists and event workers based on our ever-developing circumstances,” Goldenvoice adds, suggesting more changes to the policies are possible as the events near.
The updated policy walks back a mandatory vaccination policy for Goldenvoice and parent AEG staff as well as concertgoers for other shows taking place after Oct. 1. It’s not clear if the change affects shows between Oct. 1 and the Coachella kickoff the weekend of April 15-17. The second weekend of Coachella takes place April 22-24, and Stagecoach takes place April 29-May 1. 
Both festivals have been forced to postpone twice because of the ongoing COVID pandemic. Coachella’s initial postponement, from April to October 2020, was to feature a lineup headlined by Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean. When the April 2022 dates were announced, a lineup was not included.
Stagecoach endured largely the same challenges, but has announced a lineup that, at least at the top, remains intact from 2020 with Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs headlining. Unlike Coachella, it runs for only one weekend.
Despite a fraught season of COVID postponements, infection surges and, in some regions in particular, a resistance to vaccinations,  the loosening of requirements is significant because where Coachella goes, much of the festival ecosystem follows. With blows like the cancellation of Bonnaroo because of Hurricane Ida, rather than the pandemic, in September, the policy update feels like a vote of confidence for next year’s festival season.
In addition, Riverside County, where Indio, Calif.’s Empire Polo Club — the festivals’ site — is located, has lifted previous restrictions on large public gatherings, unlike neighboring Los Angeles County, which has enacted a Department of Public Health Order requiring operators of “Outdoor Mega Events” to cross-check proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests against valid photo IDs, effective Nov. 1. 
When Coachella and Stagecoach, became among the earliest megafests on the 2020 calendar to be postponed because of the then-emerging coronavirus pandemic, other major fests fell like dominoes.
Coachella has historically been the highest-grossing annual festival in North America by a mile. It reported a gross of nearly $114.6 million on 250,000 tickets in 2017. Stagecoach grossed nearly $25.4 million on 72,000 tickets in 2016. 
Spokespersons for neither Goldenvoice nor AEG were available to comment or clarify further, letting their online statement do their talking.