Coachella Festival Reverses Mandatory-Vaccination Policy

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In a surprise move, the Coachella festival has reversed its plan to require vaccinations for ticketholders to its April 2022 events, and instead will only require proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of the event (although proof of full vaccination will work as well).

Curiously, the announcement was made Tuesday afternoon via the festival’s Instagram story — not on its main Instagram page or on Twitter, where the most recent post, dating from August, says proof of full vaccination is required for all shows from Coachella promoter Goldenvoice.

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“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.”

The timing of the policy reversal — not to mention the reversal itself — is puzzling, because the festival is months away and tickets have long since sold out.

Reps for Goldenvoice, which is owned by AEG, did not immediately respond to Variety’s questions about the seemingly intentionally obscured announcement; in the music world, Instagram stories are usually used by artists for insider-fan announcements, not by major concert promoters for serious health-policy updates. The new policy is at odds with AEG’s full-vaccination requirement, also announced in August, however, it is in line with many other U.S. festivals held in recent weeks.

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

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