Coachella 2022: Followers discuss return to pageant in post-COVID-19 atmosphere | Leisure

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Justin Cohen has waited for the gates to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to reopen for a very long time.

How lengthy? The 32-year-old West Hollywood canine walker purchased his ticket in June 2019 and has held onto it ever since.

“I remember when it got postponed in March 2020,” Cohen says. “I said right then, ‘When we can go back to Coachella, it’ll be almost like an invisible finish line for us.’”

Michael Recon purchased his VIP wristband for the 2022 pageant in June 2021, working below the idea that by April 2022 the world can be secure sufficient to collect with 125,000 followers on the desert fest.

But by December, Recon, a senior accounting assistant for Riverside County who moonlights as a dance and choreography teacher, wasn’t so positive.

“I actually thought that things would be a lot better,” the 38-year-old Moreno Valley resident says. “A whole lot of issues are opening up and all the pieces, however I’m nonetheless cautious.

People are additionally studying…

“I don’t think we’re at like herd immunity yet, and I think that’s a big deal,” Recon says. “I mean, we’re still out in the open – but you never know.”

Recon determined to promote his wristband and sit out this Coachella in the long run.

The pageant opens Friday, and for the subsequent three weekends – two for the Coachella lineup, and a 3rd for the Stagecoach Festival – tens of 1000’s of followers will congregate in entrance of the levels and contained in the tents on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club.

The festivals will probably be packed and festivalgoers, performers, artists and distributors are thrilled to be again. But nobody can assure that COVID-19 received’t be current within the Coachella crowds this month, as pageant organizers Goldenvoice made explicitly clear on the pageant’s web site.

“There is an inherent and elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place or place where people are present,” a bolded assertion on coachella.com reads. “And there is no guarantee, express or implied, that those attending the festival will not be exposed to COVID-19.”

In different phrases, you’ve been warned.

Public well being views

When the 2022 Coachella lineup was introduced in January with headliners together with Harry Styles and Billie Eilish, the pageant nonetheless required attendees to put on masks and supply proof of vaccination primarily based on state guidelines for big occasions.

A month later, in response to a pointy decline in COVID-19 instances, the state eased its vaccine and masks guidelines, and the Coachella organizers dropped the requirement for each.

Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari, in an interview Tuesday, mentioned that whereas there’s concern any time a big group of individuals gathers, the chance of Coachella and Stagecoach turning into superspreader occasions “is a lot less than it was six or seven months ago.”

The county’s positivity and case charges are low, however the wild card is what these charges are within the areas the place festivalgoers are coming from, Saruwatari mentioned, including that she has “some comfort” within the partnership between her division and Goldenvoice.

Goldenvoice “has been in regular communication with our team that is running our COVID response,” Saruwatari mentioned. The promoter “want(s) to make a safe environment” on the festivals, she mentioned.

A personal contractor will provide checks on the polo grounds, whereas a Riverside County testing bus will roam within the neighborhood of the pageant for 3 weeks and hours at testing websites close to the polo grounds will probably be expanded, Saruwatari mentioned, noting that folks can go to myturn.ca.gov or www.rivcoph.org/coronavirus for data on the place to get examined and vaccinated.

The Coachella web site consists of extra specifics on the supply of speedy 15-minute antigen checks on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and within the Camping Hub on the pageant grounds.

The county has arrange a “pathway” for these suspected of getting or testing constructive for COVID-19 on the festivals to be evaluated to see if they need to be handled with therapeutics, Saruwatari mentioned.

She urged festivalgoers to get vaccinated beforehand. Those on the festivals ought to put on masks — N95 masks provide one of the best safety, however “anything is better than nothing,” Saruwatari mentioned.

While social distancing is a tall process amid a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals, it’s inspired, Saruwatari mentioned. Festivalgoers also needs to stick with the identical group of individuals to allow them to be told faster if somebody of their group will get contaminated, she mentioned.

Festivalgoers additionally may need to check as soon as they’ve returned from Indio, particularly if they’ve members of the family at excessive danger of extreme sickness or demise from COVID-19, Saruwatari mentioned.

Rewards over dangers

Among the festivalgoers who spoke for this text, few expressed issues about returning to Coachella within the age of COVID-19.

In reality, for James Mattone, a 25-year-old author for Activision from Santa Monica, the pandemic in a means prompted his resolution to make Coachella his first-ever music pageant expertise.

“I think with COVID it really kind of broadened my perspective a little bit,” Mattone says. The pandemic, he says, made him assume he shouldn’t postpone goals in a world the place the unpredictability of one thing like a heretofore unknown virus can flip issues the other way up immediately.

“I wouldn’t say that we might not have many Coachellas left,” he says. “But when I look at the future, I want to a family, I want kids, I want to see the world and do all this stuff. There really wasn’t a better time to plop down whatever it was to buy a wristband.”

Angel Chavez, a 29-year-old building supervisor who additionally owns a video manufacturing firm, has attended Coachella yearly since 2009.

“For me, I’m 100% comfortable,” the Coachella Valley native says of returning to the pageant. “I was already wearing a bandana, something over my face. I never really got sick when I started wearing that, and years before, I would get what they called the Coachella flu.”

Chavez, who makes movies about Coachella for his YouTube channel, says he’s nicely conscious of the dangers.

“Everybody knows the risk,” he says. “If you’re going to a festival that has 125,000 people, you know the risk at this point in the pandemic.”

To him, the advantages outweigh the remaining.

“Once you experience the festival you want to keep going,” Chavez says.

Like Mattone and Chavez, Cohen says he’s totally vaccinated, and likewise had COVID in December.

“I’m going as if it’s a normal year,” he says. “I’m not overly concerned.”

He says he, his fiancee and some associates are so excited to be again at Coachella that they might keep for the second weekend, too.

“As ridiculous as this may sound, there is nothing that I have looked forward to more, since the pandemic started, than getting back to Coachella,” Cohen says.

As for Recon, he’s comfy together with his resolution to promote his wristband and keep dwelling to look at the pageant on its livestream.

“I love being in the pit, close to the performers,” he says. “But I think I can wait another year to see live music.”

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