AEG Presents To Require Full COVID Vaccination At Concerts & Festivals Starting In October
As the delta variant threatens the live music industry’s planned return to normalcy, artists and promoters have been instituting various policies intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at concerts and festivals. Many have adopted something similar to Jason Isbell’s policy requiring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test from within the previous 48 to 72 hours. But the gargantuan promoter AEG Presents just took it a step further: Starting Oct. 1, the company’s events will require full vaccination for entry, with no exception for negative test results.
The live music arm of Anschutz Entertainment Group, AEG Presents owns dozens of venues around the United States and runs festivals including Coachella, Day N Vegas, Firefly, Hangout, Electric Forest, and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, among others. It’s the nation’s second largest concert promoter behind Live Nation, which currently has a much looser policy that merely allows artists to institute vaccine and testing requirements. AEG is drawing a much harder line and taking the onus off the artists. It’s unclear how AEG will deal with people who medically cannot receive the vaccine.
In a press release announcing the new policy, AEG Presents CEO Jay Marciano explains the company’s rationale:
We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status. 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.
The new vaccine requirement is not being instituted until Oct. 1 so that patrons and venue staff have time to get fully vaccinated before it takes effect. AEG Presents COO and General Counsel Shawn Trell also shared a statement acknowledging that state and local governments may have the power to override the new policy:
Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact. 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. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.
Marciano adds, “Our hope is that our pro-active stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated. We’ve already had to deliver bad news about JazzFest this week; 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.”
Meanwhile, ABC 7 in Chicago reports that Lollapalooza, where patrons were required to bring proof of vaccination or a negative test result, may not have been the COVID outbreak some people feared. Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, says there is “no evidence” that Lolla was a “super-spreader” event.
“We are now 14 days past the first day of Lolla and we are continuing to investigate cases of COVID,” Arwady tweeted today. “There have been no unexpected findings at this point and NO evidence at this point of ‘super-spreader’ event or substantial impact to Chicago’s COVID-19 epidemiology.” Arwady said that 203 cases of COVID have resulted from Lolla out of about 385,000 people, that 90% of attendees were vaccinated, that “0.0004% (4 in 10,000) of vaccinated attendees have reported testing positive,” and that “0.0016% (16 in 10,000) of unvaccinated attendees have reported testing positive.” No COVID-related hospitalizations or deaths have been linked to Lolla as of Wednesday, Aug. 11.