The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival announced on its website this week that it will not require attendees to wear masks or provide vaccine cards or a negative COVID-19 test to attend its two-weekend outdoor music festival in April. The announcement marks the end of a series of policies for Coachella that never made much sense given low rates of outdoor COVID-19 transmission.
Coachella has been on a two-year hiatus since the spring of 2020. Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which owns the festival, released a statement in August 2021 announcing a vaccination mandate for all of its live music events. In October 2021, Coachella surprised the public by rescinding the vaccination mandate and declaring that it would instead require either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test conducted 72 hours before the event. Now, all restrictions are off.
The same is true for the Stagecoach Festival, a country music event also under the AEG umbrella, which announced on its website that it would drop COVID-related health precautions. Given that country music tends to appeal to a more conservative audience, canceling the mandate was crucial for bolstering attendance, especially after country star Travis Tritt last October canceled events that required proof of vaccination or masks.
Last summer, Lollapalooza decided to hold its festival despite concerns that it could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. No such outbreak materialized, which should not have been a surprise as data have shown that COVID-19 does not spread easily in outdoor settings.
Coachella's announcement is cause for celebration, especially for Americans seeking a respite from excessive and scientifically dubious restrictions on their lives.
A January poll from Echelon Insights showed that a majority of Americans believed that COVID-19 should be treated like an endemic virus such as the flu rather than as a perpetual emergency. Doing so would allow us to more or less live life normally without the threat of events shutting down.