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Coachella and Stagecoach festivals loosen COVID-19 guidelines for entry

Festival goers crowd around the Supernova, a polychromatic star during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Festival goers crowd around the Supernova, a polychromatic star during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has reversed its requirement for attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of its events next spring.

Festival organizer Goldenvoice announced the decision Tuesday, which now gives attendees the option to present a negative COVID-19 test as a substitute for being vaxxed prior to entry, rather than only proof of vaccination. The decision also applies to country fest Stagecoach, Goldenvoice’s other marquee event that takes place in late April and early May.

“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,” according to a statement on Coachella’s website.

The desert festival’s health and safety policy is “regularly updated in consideration for our fans, artists and event workers based on our ever-developing circumstances,” organizers added. While plans and mandates may continue to change, organizers will update the rules on their website with developments and more details closer to the festival.

After numerous COVID-19-related cancellations and postponements, the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals have been scheduled for April 2022.

Reactions to the new guidelines were mixed.

In an explosion of comments on the Coachella 2022 Reddit entry on Tuesday, some applauded Goldenvoice’s decision while several others speculated about why organizers reversed the vaccination requirement.

“Makes way more sense, good job Coachella,” commented one Redditor. “I wonder what bigger artists threatened to pull out if they had a vax only policy,” wrote another user.

“Not super pleased with this. Make it fully vaxxed. F— anti-vaxxers! I have no need to vibe with these people,” added another.

“It’s all a damn shame, I wish they stuck to their guns, but they can’t afford an undercapacity StageCoach or risk some of the talent choosing not to show up,” speculated another.

Some non-U.S. residents wrote that they feared their vaccination cards wouldn’t be recognized, and others simply just wanted to get a refund, an issue further exacerbated by the festival delays and that many Redditors have discussed on the page.

Coachella co-founder Paul Tollett tells The Times that Frank Ocean will headline the festival in 2023, and reflects on the ongoing damage of COVID-19.

In August, Coachella promoter AEG, which runs the festivals and L.A. clubs such as the Roxy and El Rey, announced a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and fans at future shows. Tuesday’s announcement came just days after that policy kicked in on Oct. 1.

Coachella takes place at the Empire Polo Club over two weekends, and next year’s edition is set for April 15-17 and April 22-24 after being twice delayed by the pandemic. The full lineup of 2022 performers has not yet been announced.

Stagecoach is set for April 29-May 1 and boasts Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs as headliners.


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