Coachella Is Reversing Its Vaccine Mandate for Next April’s Fest

The Indio-set fest’s reversal contradicts a policy put in place by parent company AEG in August

UPDATE: OCTOBER 13 — On Tuesday afternoon, almost exactly two months after Coachella announced that it would require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry to its April 2022 iteration, the Indio-set music fest announced it was reversing the policy.

In an Instagram story, the fest reasoned, “After seeing first-hand the low transmission data and successful implementation of safety protocols at our other festivals this past month, we feel confident we can update our health policy to allow for: Negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event OR Proof of full vaccination.”

As Variety points out, the sudden change in policy is a puzzling given that the policy wasn’t scaring away ticket buyers—the fest has been sold out for months. It also contradicts a policy put in place by AEG Presents, which owns Coachella promoter Goldenvoice, although AEG did refer to the policy as “opened ended” when it was announced in August. Neither Goldenvoice nor AEG responded to requests for comment from Variety.

AUGUST 13, 2021 — AEG Presents, the live-entertainment promotion company behind festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach, announced Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for entry into their upcoming shows.

The vaccine mandate, which AEG said will be “limited only as required by law,” goes into effect October 1 for all of its owned-and-operated festivals, clubs, and theaters. Negative COVID-19 tests won’t substitute the company’s new vaccination requirement, but they will apparently accommodate medical and religious exemptions with “necessary documentation.”

The policy comes days after AEG canceled the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival due to a rise in cases in Louisiana.

“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” says Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and chairman and CEO of 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.”

He continues, “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.”

Shawn Trell, COO and general counsel of AEG Presents, says he thinks the company’s decision to require vaccinations can make an “impact” on the industry at large.

“The message we want to send is simple and clear: the only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated,” Trell says. “And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.”

For events prior to October 1, AEG will allow concertgoers to attend via proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the show date.

Although AEG’s Coachella and Stagecoach festivals were pushed to 2022, other events including Day N Vegas and Delaware’s Firefly are planned for the coming weeks.

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