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When the Coachella outdoor music festival returns for the first time in two years this April, performers will be greeted by a sea of unmasked — and potentially unvaccinated — fans, as the struggling concert industry stirs back to life.
On Tuesday, organizers said that attendees will not be required to wear masks or be vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which drew up to 125,000 fans a day to Southern California and was one of the biggest music festivals of the pre-pandemic era.
“There is no guarantee, express or implied, that those attending the festival will not be exposed to Covid-19,” Goldenvoice, a division of the global concert giant AEG Live, said on the Coachella website.
Goldenvoice noted, however, that the festival’s Covid policies may change “in accordance with applicable public health conditions.”
Goldenvoice also said on Tuesday that Stagecoach, a country music festival in Southern California, would have no requirements for guests to be masked, vaccinated or tested. The festival was set to run for three days at the end of April and the beginning of May.
It has been a turbulent two years for the concert and touring industries, as a number of events were canceled because of the virus. In the last year, since the Covid vaccine became widely available, organizers have grappled with decisions over whether to hold the events at all and whether to require masks, vaccines and testing.
Over four days last summer, the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago ran at full capacity, with its 400,000 attendees being required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. According to data released by the city after the festival, infection rates among the concertgoers were very low.
Before the pandemic, Coachella, which is widely seen as a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business, had put on a show every year since 1999 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. It typically runs over two weekends in April.
The organizers of Coachella announced in January, after weeks of speculation, that the festival would be back this year. It is set to be headlined by Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Kanye West.