Lollapalooza festival returns, attendees react to precautions

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In this July 29, 2021 file photo, fans gather and cheer on day one of the Lollapalooza music festival at Grant Park in Chicago. (Shafkat Anowar/Associated Press)

Lollapalooza, Chicago’s premier music festival, reported that at least 385,000 people attended the festival this past weekend. In the same time frame, Chicago also reported 600 new Covid-19 cases. 

The festival originally required that all guests show proof of vaccination, but changed to requiring a negative Covid-19 test within 24 hours of attending — which was then extended to 72 hours.

All attendees were required to show proof upon entering. However, DePaul sophomore Kaitlun Shelley said that the security checkpoints were “a joke.”

“People were set up at a checkpoint to check vaccination records and Covid-19 tests, but there was truly no way for them to identify if I was holding my own vaccination records, or if I had a negative test,” she said. “They briefly glanced at each card passing through the checkpoint and did not seem to take their jobs seriously.”

DePaul sophomore Kelly Johnson said that security was not verifying photo ID’s to check if the attendee was the correct vaccination card holder for the first few days. 

It seemed like they were more focused on verifying wristbands than the vaccination cards,” Johnson said. “I was under the impression that we needed a photo ID to verify our vaccination cards but I did not notice the security checking IDs.”

Johnson said that during the “third or fourth day” of the festival was when security stopped allowing people to enter if they did not have a physical copy of their vaccination card. 

“[It] was reassuring because earlier on I saw many people entering by simply showing a photo,” she said. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot faced criticism for allowing the festival to occur due to concerns over the Covid-19 Delta variant. 

“It’s outdoors. We’ve been having large-scale events all over the city since June without major problems or issues,” Lightfoot said. “The Lolla team has been phenomenal. They’ve hired their own public health experts who’ve been working hand in glove with us since we started these discussions.”

Although vaccinated guests were allowed to attend without masks, guests did worry whether people could be lying about their vaccination status.

“I worried that people were lying about their vaccination records, Covid-19 tests, or even contracted the virus after receiving their Covid test results,” Shelley said. 

However, Chicago shifted back to recommending all individuals wear a mask regardless of vaccination status last Saturday. Lollapalooza announced they would follow this new update. 

We encourage all fans attending the festival to bring a mask as they attend the final two days of the festival,” Lollapalooza announced via social media before the Saturday lineup.

Some guests were concerned for the unvaccinated attendees more than themselves. 

“I really felt worried for unvaccinated people attending as they were the ones at major risk,” Lake Forest College senior and attendee Bethany Newby said. “I got the vaccine so I could take risks like this, but I did not want to risk other people’s safety.”

The city has not reported how many attendees were coming from out of state. Chicago Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said that it can take up to two weeks in order to see if the festival will have any impact on the city’s number of cases.