CHICAGO — Lollapalooza is still on, even as Chicago is seeing its coronavirus numbers climb — and city officials defended the fest Tuesday.
Lollapalooza is set for July 29-Aug. 1 at Grant Park. The festival routinely attracts more than 100,000 people per day, but officials announced in mid-May it would return at full capacity as the pandemic appeared to be coming under control.
Now, though, COVID-19 cases are creeping up in Chicago — and in every state in the country. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, held a news conference Tuesday where they warned of a potential new wave of COVID and asked more people to get vaccinated.
Lightfoot said she does not regret allowing Lollapalooza, though.
“I think we made the best decision that we could, as always, based upon the data and based upon projections and modeling,” Lightfoot said. “I feel like we made the right decisions, but we’re sounding the alarm today because we’re starting to see this uptick.”
Chicago is seeing an average of 90 new cases per day as of Tuesday, a 69 percent increase from a week ago. The outbreak is still “in reasonable control,” Arwady said, but people should be taking preventative action now — like getting vaccinated — to prevent another wave.
Lollapalooza organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The festival has taken safety precautions: People who go this year must be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of attendance.
Notably, a Dutch music festival now linked to 1,000 coronavirus cases had even stricter requirements: proof of vaccination or a negative test within 40 hours of festival attendance.
Arwady said officials are “looking forward” to Lollapalooza and expect the “great majority” of attendees to be vaccinated. People who aren’t fully vaccinated will need to wear a mask on top of providing a negative COVID-19 test, she said.
And all attendees should expect to show proof they’re vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test, Lightfoot said.
Still, the festival is infamous for people breaking its rules and sneaking in or even jumping over fences to get in.
Arwady said the city health department experts will watch Lolla as they would “any other gathering,” but she’s more worried about the “many, many people” around the city who have not yet gotten vaccinated.
And Lightfoot said “yes,” she’d still make the decision to hold Lollapalooza again if asked now.
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