Crowds of people who are expected to travel to Chicago’s Grant Park to attend the Lollapalooza Festival this week will be asked to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested negative for the disease in the past three days.
The four-day festival starts on Thursday and is expected to return to full capacity, with approximately 100,000 people participating every day. After being disorientated by the coronavirus threat last summer, this will easily become the largest gathering in Chicago since the beginning of the pandemic and one of the nationwide gatherings.
This year’s festival will be very different from the past. To visit, attendees must show their vaccination records or a printed copy of the COVID-19 negative test within 72 hours. This means that anyone who holds a four-day past but has not been vaccinated must undergo two tests. In addition, anyone who has not been vaccinated must wear a mask.
Public health officials and others have expressed concern that such a large-scale gathering, even if it is outdoors, may become a widespread incident. According to CNBC, Dutch officials were shocked after a small music festival attended by 20,000 people two days earlier this month resulted in nearly 1,000 COVID-19 cases. That festival has guarantees similar to Lollapalooza.
Despite the recent increase in cases caused by highly infectious delta mutations, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Alison Awadi, said this week that she is satisfied that Lollapalooza is proceeding as planned due to preventive measures taken by the organizers saying they have gone “above and beyond.” In addition to the admission requirements, the organizers also considered the ventilation of the indoor space, ensuring that the backstage staff are vaccinated, and prepare masks and test tickets.
“I would not feel comfortable moving ahead with Lollapalooza without COVID protocols in place,” Arwady said. “I don’t think I would feel comfortable if this were an indoor event, either. And I frankly don’t think I would feel comfortable if we were sitting in Louisiana right now, where cases are looking like they’re looking.”
Although Chicago’s daily number of new cases has increased, from 104 a week ago to 176 on Wednesday, the city has not seen an increase like many other parts of the country in recent weeks. Its average daily number of cases The number of deaths and hospitalizations declined slightly.
At the same time, “When you’re having this many folks who are coming through almost certainly there will be some cases. But I’m confident that the combination of what we know about limiting risk in outdoor settings, pairing that with vaccination and or testing and ideally mostly vaccination, which is what we expect, as well as all the other mitigation factors.”
Lollapalooza officials did not immediately respond to a request for more information about their screening process, but on the festival’s website, they stated that every entrance would be guarded to check all the luggage carried by the attendees and make sure there was no one. Except for small purses, handbags, and drawstring backpacks, anything is allowed.