Is Lollapalooza 2021 set to be a COVID superspreader event?

Lollapalooza 2021 COVID
Photo via Fuzzy Gerdes/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Numerous long-awaited events have returned in 2021 after being postponed or outright cancelled during the worst of the pandemic throughout 2020. Lollapalooza, Chicago’s premier music festival, was shifted to a virtual format during the pandemic, but is back in all its in-person glory this year. The impending event is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants, prompting concerns that it could lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Event organizers are working hard to make Lollapalooza 2021 as safe as possible, but the rapidly spreading delta COVID variant has some people concerned. The highly transmissible variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., and with so many people in close proximity could spread like wildfire through Lollapalooza 2021 attendees.

Lollapalooza typically draws upwards of 100,000 attendees per day. In order to keep people safe, event organizers plan to enforce a series of health measures aimed at lessening transmission. Before people can be granted access to Lollapalooza 2021, they will have to show evidence of a full COVID vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of the event. If people wish to attend all four days of Lollapalooza 2021, they’ll have no choice but to be tested multiple times. People who arrive without proof of a negative test or a full vaccination will be turned away at the gate.

All unvaccinated attendees, even after testing negative, will be forced to wear a mask the entire time they enjoy the festivities. 

The mask requirement has some people concerned that the festival will be operating under an “honor system.” Once attendees have passed through the gate, they will likely have the freedom to remove their masks if they wish to do so. For those with concerns about the virus and its variants, this could be a deal-breaker. 

Despite the heightened COVID health measures, some experts believe Lollapalooza 2021 is set to be a risky event. While most agree that the precautions should prevent it from becoming a superspreader, most experts agree that a surge in cases is likely to follow the event. 

Lollapalooza is set to occur between Thursda,y July 29 and Sunday, Aug. 1. In order to be granted access, event goers will need to obtain a festival wristband, along with their COVID vaccine card or proof of a negative test. Concertgoers will also be asked to adhere to a “fan health pledge,” which asks them to avoid attendance if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19, if they’ve recently tested positive, or if they’ve recently been exposed to someone with the virus. 

Sources: ABC7 [1,2], Billboard, Chicago Tribune

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