Music events like these are updating their policies in light of the Delta variant.

How Concerts and Music Festivals are Responding to the Delta Variant

After live music made a comeback this spring and summer, the Delta variant of the coronavirus has altered music events. Some of the largest music organizations have rolled out new protocols to help the show go on in the face of this threat. We take a look at some of them here.

Live Nation

In a document obtained by Variety, Live Nation, the world’s largest concert provider, outlined its new Covid policies. The company will require all attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result for entry “where permitted by law.” 

As Live Nation employees resume some in-person work, the company will also require them to be vaccinated by October 4.

AEG Presents

AEG Presents, another live event leader, also unveiled a vaccine mandate at its shows, “limited only as required by law.”

Unlike Live Nation, though, AEG’s policy explicitly requires vaccination, not proof of a negative test. A release says the company will accept negative test results until the vaccination policy goes into effect on October 1. Patrons who decide not to take the vaccine due to religious beliefs or a medical condition may fill out an exemption form and provide a negative test result.

CEO Jay Marciano said that “as a market leader, it was up to [AEG] to take a real stand on vaccination status.”

Many music events are requiring vaccines as the Delta variant causes Covid to spread.

Jason Isbell

The legal limits Live Nation and AEG cite in their policies have already affected some events, too. 

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, most anti-vaccine mandate laws prevent state or local governments from requiring vaccination, not private entities. Still, some venues have not accommodated requests for audiences to show proof of vaccination. 

Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell became one of the first in the music industry to require proof of vaccination at his shows in light of the Delta variant. 

Isbell announced his policy on August 9 and discussed it with Rolling Stone Magazine. He moved a show out of a Houston venue that said it did not have enough time to accommodate his request, an excuse he called “hollow.”

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed an order prohibiting any venue receiving public funding from implementing a vaccine mandate. Isbel tells Rolling Stone this move prompted his August concert in Fort Worth to switch venues. As he tells it, “capitalism stepped up,” and a venue not worried about losing state funding picked up the show.

Isbell does not mince words or leave much room for compromise in that interview. He also moved his show from Brandon, Mississippi, to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, over the mandate. 

While he is just an individual artist, Isbell’s uncompromising stance and willingness to put his money where his mouth is has attracted notoriety across the industry. 

Outdoor music events offer more safety from the Delta variant.

Music Festivals and the Delta Variant

Per WAAY-ABC 31, Isbell’s own music festival on the Gulf coast of Alabama will require proof of vaccination or a negative test result. ShoalsFest organizers will also ask children under 12, for whom Covid vaccines are not yet authorized, to wear masks.

Bonnaroo, a large music festival in central Tennessee, was to place this weekend, September 2-5. Flooding from Hurricane Ida forced the event’s cancelation.

The festival, too, would have required proof of vaccination or a negative test result for entry. Additionally, organizers had requested that all unvaccinated individuals wear masks. 

In New York, the New York Times details a New York City music festival celebrating the city’s reopening. The event will require vaccination. Other festivals in and around the city will offer the option of showing a negative test, though.

While these music festivals will go on, New Orleans’ Jazz Fest was canceled for the second year in a row as the Delta variant caused a spike of cases in Louisiana. The event would have taken place October 8-10 and 15-17. 

These adjustments show that, while the U.S. is not finished with Covid yet, the music industry is still finding ways to adapt to the threat of the Delta variant. 

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