Vaccination or Negative Tests Will Be Required for Most Concerts & Festivals This Fall

Major concert promoters Live Nation and AEG are making it an official policy.

lollapalooza 2021 festival attendee in mask
Lollapalooza 2021 crowd | Scott Legato/Getty Images
Lollapalooza 2021 crowd | Scott Legato/Getty Images

Live music was one of the many industries that came to a complete halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and artists and music fans alike couldn't be more antsy for the return of concerts this year. As restrictions on event sizes were eased in the spring and summer, many performers set back out on tour, venues started hosting gigs again, and festival season finally kicked off.

During the last weekend of July, the US held the largest music festival since the start of the pandemic with Lollapalooza in Chicago. With Lolla taking place during the latest surge of COVID cases caused by the contagious Delta variant, many were nervous the festival was bound to be the latest super-spreader event. Instead, it's been hailed as a success. Because proof of vaccination or a negative test was required to gain entry—and 90% of attendees were fully vaccinated—Chicago has traced only 203 confirmed cases to the event attended by around 385,000 people across four days.

With the entry requirement credited to the evident success of Lollapalooza, now many other concerts and live events are following suit. Basically, full vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID test will be mandated at just about every music festival, show, or tour this fall—in part due to individual business guidelines and rules in cities like NYC and LA, but also because concert promoters and venue owners Live Nation and AEG (who promote and sell tickets for many, many major tours) are implementing the policy.

Live Nation, which owns Lollapalooza, confirmed the requirement—which applies to attendees, artists, crew, and calls for all Live Nation employees to be vaccinated—to Rolling Stone in mid-August. The announcement came after the news of how few cases spread due to the festival, and shortly after, fellow entertainment company AEG announced its own, similar policy. AEG's guidelines are actually stricter, with full vaccination required for any of its events (including Coachella, which is planned for 2022). In states where that defies the law, proof of a negative test will also be an option. AEG's plan goes into effect on October 1 and Live Nation's on October 4, although other cities or independent venues may already have their own active policies by then.

Based on Lollapalooza, the efficacy of the vaccine in large seems clear, and the entry requirements could be a surefire way to ensure live music can not only continue for fans and as a business, but remain sustainably safe for all artists, fans, and industry workers. AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Maricano noted in a statement that the company may have taken a "dramatic step," but sees it as a "pro-active stance [that] encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated." He said, "I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening."

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.