Lollapalooza should not have been held in 2021


Photo courtesy of: Colin Hinkle/Soaring Badger Productions

Above the crowds: Thousands of people attend Lollapalooza 2021 despite rising concerns over the COVID delta variant.

Kyle Kucera, Opinion Editor

The annual four-day music festival held in Chicago’s Grant Park wrapped up on Sunday, Aug. 1. In non-pandemic years, Lollapalooza is a highly sought out festival that hosts some of the biggest names in the music industry. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city to satisfy their music cravings and hear their favorite artists perform. However, with the delta variant on the rise, Lollapalooza was a risky event for Chicago to go through with. 

In accordance with the city of Chicago’s requirements, Lollapalooza patrons had to be fully vaccinated, or present a negative test result obtained within 72 hours of attending the festival. The Lollapalooza support page explains that if unvaccinated individuals were planning on attending all four days, they were required to show a negative test on July 29, which would cover them for Thursday through Saturday, and another negative test presented on Sunday, Aug. 1. 

In addition, the support page states that “​​If you are unvaccinated, wear a mask throughout your time onsite,” but does not get any more specific or even says that these individuals are required to. An update was given to this page saying that all attendees were required to wear masks in indoor spaces at Grant Park beginning July 31 following the latest advice from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

These were necessary measures in order to ensure that the festival went on safely, and did not cause an outbreak of COVID cases. The required presenting of a vaccination card or negative COVID tests were great precautions taken by the Lollapalooza organizers. However, with the delta variant becoming such a serious threat to reinstating certain mandates, the restrictions could have been stricter.

It is possible that some individuals could have presented fake vaccination cards or test results. Unfortunately, if this was the case, unvaccinated attendees could have been spreading the delta variant to other unvaccinated individuals and even fully vaccinated ones as we have seen with breakthrough cases.

The week leading up to the start of Lollapalooza, the city of Chicago saw a daily average of 206 COVID-19 cases. The festival kicked off just as the daily average positivity rate for the city of Chicago hit 3.3 percent as compared to 2.3 percent the previous week; the daily average positivity rate for July 1 in the city of Chicago was just 0.7 percent. It was no secret that delta variant cases were and are surging around the country and in Chicago, yet city officials were willing to take the risk in order to hold the long-awaited event.

After Lollapalooza 2020 was cancelled during the peak of the pandemic, fans and supporters waited eagerly for 2021. Cases had gone down, vaccines were in peoples’ arms, safety measures were in place, and everything looked good for the event to take place in 2021. The start of the festival was so close to occurring before the delta variant really became an immense threat. 

To call the event off last-minute over COVID concerns would have been a massive disappointment to tens of thousands of people who already had plans and would have brought huge amounts of scrutiny to the city of Chicago and mayor Lori Lightfoot’s name. Not to mention, what a mammoth task it would have been to have to refund the hundreds of thousands of tickets and all of the artists and vendors who paid or were being paid to be there. In the end, it was easier for the city to host Lollapalooza despite the rising cases.

While we all miss our pre-pandemic sense of normalcy and being able to attend large events, risking a surge of cases at a time like this is simply not worth it. Missing another year of Lollapalooza at the expense of keeping people safe would not have been the end of the world. All we can hope for now is that next year, Lollapalooza will go on without a hitch and we won’t have to worry about any COVID safety precautions.